BJ Upton is off to a good start, hitting .300 with a .357 OBP, and he is on pace for 20 home runs and 50 stolen bases. All of those numbers, except for the home runs, would be his best marks since 2007.
So what’s different? Well, there is his .349 batting average on balls in play (BABIP; 9th in the AL), which suggests he is getting more basehits than he deserves. However, he is hitting a ton of line drives (21.8%), a sign that his BABIP is not necessarily a product of “luck.”
But the biggest different is BJ’s more aggressive approach at the plate…
Upton is swinging at 52.6% of the pitches he sees, the highest rate of his career. And yet, as his swings increase, his strikeouts are decreasing. He is striking out only 21.3% of his plate appearances, his lowest mark since 2008.
We also see that as Upton has become more aggressive, his Weighted On Base Average (wOBA; kinda like OPS, but better) has gone up. And what was a below-average hitter in 2009 (.310 wOBA) and an average hitter in 2010 and 2011 (.337), has become what would be the 15th best wOBA in the AL if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
Of course, the biggest question with Upton is whether or not he can keep it up. He has shown us hot streaks in the past. But this one feels different. And as long as BJ remains aggressive, he could be in for a big year.