In his latest piece, Tom Verducci echoed much of what we have been saying about BJ Upton recently. That is, Upton’s has much bigger problems than “an occasional lack of hustle.”

Upton is not a very good hitter right now. His swing is so long and late that he is getting overmatched by right-handed power pitchers. Pitchers with power sliders or 90-plus mph fastballs at the belt and above own him. Upton is hitting .203 against right-handers. Against power pitchers, he is hitting .169 with 25 strikeouts in 59 at-bats.

Upton turns 26 next month and has played in almost 600 major league games, and yet he is such a mess mechanically that he has regressed as a hitter. He is chasing more pitches out of the zone and swinging and missing more than ever before in his career.

Verducci goes on to compare Upton’s career statline to that of Melky Cabrera, the same player we likened Upton to last week. Prior to yesterday, the two players born 10 days apart, had the same number of career at bats and very similar career stats.

In his recent appearances as a leadoff hitter versus lefties, Upton has looked very good. He is hitting .278/.400/.595 versus lefties on the season. But one has to wonder if he should even be in the lineup next time the Rays face a hard-throwing righty.

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26 Comments

  1. Jordi says:

    Verducci had a good break down of BJ on MLB Network the other night as well. He compared his swing from 08 to 2010 and said his timing mechanism is off-kilter. BJ doesn't have the same high leg kick he used to have (aka a Gary Sheffield-esque approach). BJ used to be fooled by off-speed junk, now he can hit that fine, but his "quick hands" are gone - maybe as a result of pressing too hard with a bad shoulder?

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  2. Jason W says:

    He needs to do a Josh Hamilton like, get rid of that front foot movement before he swings. Josh Hamilton did something like that and now he was the best hitter in the month of June. I'm ot saying Upton will do the same, but it might at least help.

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  3. Gus says:

    One other thing -- within an at bat, he makes no adjustments whatsoever. No shorten up down in the count, no going with an outside pitch. So if a pitcher gets it past him once, he's a fool not to go back there two more times to strike him out. Even when he goes opposite field, it is more a function of a hard swing late and the ball goes to RF; not a concious choice to go to right field.

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  4. Tone says:

    BJ is too much of project for a contending team. He has mechanical and mental problems. Trying to correct them in mid-season seems like a lost cause to me. I think he would be better served on a team where there is no pressure, so he could ebb and flow to his hearts content without hurting his team in the standings. D-Backs, Nationals, or the Royals could be good trade partners since he is pretty cheap. Not sure about the return; I would not want him to go unless the return was fair. I am personally sick of seeing him suck as a Ray.

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    • pudieron89 says:

      Mental problems? What the hell does that mean? I wasn't aware you were Upton's psychologist. Upton isn't hurting this team any more right now than Longo's slump is, think about it. Longo had a terrible month overall, whereas Upton had a pretty nice hit streak going and had excellent defense the whole way along save one overblown incident.

      You and some other moronic Rays fans are "sick of seeing him suck as a Ray" but the fans that pay attention and know what's going on are sick of seeing him underperform his talent, but not necessarily suck. He's above average in CF, but no one seems to care about that because he's only an average hitter.

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      • Don says:

        Guess you didn't see Longo last night....You think Upton would have got a hit in the 9th...trust me... no way..
        Please don't try to compare Upton to Longo as a baseball player...not even on the same planet!

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        • pudieron89 says:

          If you had any reading comprehension whatsoever, you would realize that I'm saying Longo's lack of hitting compared to where he's usually at (first XBH in forever last night, thank god) has hurt this team more overall than any act Upton has done. All Upton has done is have above-average defense in CF and hit at replacement, which is more than a lot of teams get out of their CFs.

          I'm not comparing the two as players, I'm comparing the impacts of their respective "slumps".

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          • tbdudette says:

            "Slumps" are an acceptable part of the game...if they happen over a short period of time. BJ shines for a month at a time....not over a season. And slacking, on a consistent basis is unacceptable.

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          • Gus says:

            That is "the soft bigotry of low expectations" if I've ever heard it.

            Personally, I'd like a CF who isn't a complete black hole on offense. I don't get how batting .226 with a slug % of .402 is "replacement", but maybe you can demonstrate that.

            I'd also note, he's making $3M this year and the Rays have far cheaper equivalent options that this clown. The only reason they haven't made a move is they are scared he turns into a real ballplayer somewhere else (which is possible; this may all be an operation shutdown).

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          • Justin says:

            You're insane.

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      • Tone says:

        What do I mean by mental problems? Are you blind? He gets picked off ALL the time, he gets called out for not running down a ball and flips out like a spoiled baby. Then he tries to blame Joyce for not being in position, he has issues seeing the reality of his own failures. He needs a shrink, I would take the job but for some reason you have to have prior experience. You are a moron for even attempting to defend a player with so many flaws(potential goes only so far). Suck it.

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  5. Don says:

    "Verducci" could have saved a lot of time and figuring if he just would have call Me the last couple years..I could have told him BJ couldn't hit...consistently over time...
    But I going to give you all the biggest reason he doesn't make contact...."He Loses his head"....if you don't play golf this is hard to pick up...but in a nut shell..
    BJs head is "gone" before the bat gets to the ball...its IMPOSSIBLE to hit the moving target(ball) when your head is not in the swing ....watch his head next time....can't believe coaches don't pick this up...but now YOU know!

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    • pudieron89 says:

      If only the team was run by a bunch of yous, Don. Then we would see your true "brilliance".

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    • Huey Lewis says:

      Don, you might be the single most pessimistic person I have ever encountered. Were you not hugged enough as a child or what?

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  6. Sublime says:

    Funny thing, Every person we think, "We should just trade this guy" ends up playing really good ball somewhere else! Maybe the coaches need to pulled to the carpet, from Pitchers to Hitters, time after time, dudes go other places and all of a sudden, **viola** they start to pitch better and hit better. Start looking at Hickey and Shelton before we ship every player we "think" is a problem.

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    • Justin says:

      You're right, every player we've traded has ended up in the all-star game!

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    • Sarah says:

      Yeah, but some players the Rays have picked up have also outperformed their earlier careers. There are several teams that dumped Carlos Pena before he came to the Rays on a minor league contract - he's not having a great year at the moment, but in 2007-9, how many homers did he hit off of teams that let him go? There must have been moments in 2008-9 when the Twins had a similar sense about Bartlett; perhaps ditto the Houston Astros and Ben Zobrist. And I'd say the odds are good that at some point Sean Rodriguez will get a clutch hit off the Angels and their fans will wonder why they gave him away for a putz like Kazmir.

      As Rays fans we're acutely aware of the "ones that got away," but you can't really say that, on balance, the Rays have badly misjudged talent over the past few years.

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  7. robert says:

    Upton is"autistic". He struggles while at the same time making everything look so easy. I've seen him get to balls in center that NO ONE in the history of the game gets to, period. On the other hand, he can just forget where he is and be swept away in a daydream of some sort, even while batting. Think about it, someone is throwing a ball at you, sometimes at speeds approaching 100 MPH and you can just to drift off somewhere-- that a disability! And yet when he's locked in (he can't control it) it's like he's playing wiffle ball with 5 year olds. Anyway, it won't change, so trade him...

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  8. Raysfanboy says:

    Upton has alot of issues above and beyond his mechanics. However, I would agree that he has alterred his stance a bit as of late. It almost looks like he has opened up a little more and raised his hands more than he has in the past. He is almost a Carl Crawford from the right side--minus the hitting and the work ethic.

    http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com/
    http://fanhuddle.com/tampabayrays/

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  9. John S says:

    The fact that Upton struggles even to make a complete sentence when talking without sounding high or buzzed it is amazing he is maintaining this career .240 batting average. Haha.. oh wait he isn't

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