Is BJ's Lack of Power a Problem?

Last season, BJ Upton became the superstar type of player that the team has waited for him to become. He hit 24 homeruns last year to assist him on his way to an .894 OPS. His breakout season has given fans expectations of a power hitter to bat in our three-hole. However, Bossman Jr. only has 3 homeruns to this point, which ties him with Shawn Riggans. Riggans has reached that mark in over 125 less at-bats.

Although he hasn't been hitting the homeruns, he has still been driving the ball into the gaps. If you extrapolate his current data to the amount of at-bats he had last season, he would finish with 37 doubles. These 37 doubles would be 12 more than he hit last season. Homeruns would be a welcomed addition to his repertoire this season, but he is still slugging the ball over .430. Some of his decrease in power might be explained by his shoulder problems. Even though he insists it did not bother him, you could see a noticeable difference in his swing after the injury. He seems to be back to full health now, but for a week or two after that injury he seemed to be laboring at the plate. Another reason may simply be poor luck, as his homerun/fly ball ratio has come down to 6.4% after 19.5% last season.

Even if his slugging has gone down he has improved his game in other areas. He has become one of the best guys in all of baseball at getting on-base. He currently leads the team with his .398 mark, and is 7th in all of the American League. The main reason for this has been due to a improvement on an already great plate approach. His biggest problem last season was his strikeout rate. Striking out as much as he does isn't really an issue when you are getting on base at such a high rate, but he has decreased his strikeout percentage from 32.5% to 25.3%. This decrease in strikeouts has lead to an increase in walks as his BB% has risen from 12.1% to 14.0%.

His ability to get on-base combined with the teams aggressive nature has also led to higher stolen base totals. He is on pace to steal 35 paces, which would be a big improvement of his current career high of 22. Although he has been suspect at best with his baserunning, he has still allowed for his natural athleticism to carry him towards success.

To answer the title of the post, you can't really say his lack of power is too big of a problem. He is bound to pick up some more homers, but even if he doesn't he is still having a good season. He would clearly be a better player if he could hit some more longballs, but even without them he stands out as a great player. With Pena seeming to come out of his slumber, this should lead to BJ seeing even more good pitches to hit, which should only inflate his numbers more.

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