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.