Off Base: Recession Hits B.J. Upton's Bat

First, I just want to take a minute and say how much I love winning. It makes getting up in the morning easier; it makes your frosted flakes takes sweeter and your orange juice colder. Winning is fantastic and the only thing that beats winning one game is winning two games. Let's try that.

Now on to the topic: B.J. Upton. We love B.J. Upton on DRaysBay. We've defended Upton's "laziness", his "lack of hustle" and all those other things that really didn't matter last year. However right now, B.J. Upton just isn't getting it done. To be fair to Upton, he did miss the entire spring camp, and participating in a few minor league spring training games are hardly enough to prepare you for the season. At 59 plate appearances so far, Upton is really just wrapping up spring training.

Nonetheless, this is not spring training and fair or not, he needs to pick up the slack. Upton has not hit all season, but I'm not worried about the hitting aspect. Call me a B.J. homer, but I doubt he'll hit .160/.288/.200 all season. Once all things fall into place (the shoulder, the timing) Upton will hit. What I'm more worried about is over the past week the walks have gone away. During the first seven games of the season Upton was hitting .217/.379/.261. Again, the hits are not there, but a .379 OBP is a great and he had six walks in 29 plate appearances.

Since April 19th, the game he left with a quad injury, Upton is hitting .111/.200/.148 with just three walks in 30 plate appearances. It's a lot easier to give him a pass on hitting when he's still getting on base and stealing bases. But now he's not getting on base and since stealing two bases in his debut, Upton has swiped just one bag and none since the injury.

So what's wrong? When it comes to selecting pitches, Upton remains among the top five in the majors in O-Swing% (min 50 PA) at12.6%. Despite the low O-Swing, Upton is still striking out a lot even for his standards. He currently has a career high 36% K rate and he has registered a strikeout in every game except 4/19/09, which was the game he left after just one at bat. Other than strikeouts, Upton's line drive, ground ball and fast ball percentages remain in proportion with career rates.

Just last week, I wrote about Upton maintaining his career .356 BABIP. That number has plummeted during this slump and Upton's BABIP is now at .250 which means....wait for it....he is due for an upward regression! Last night I saw B.J. swing at a few pitches that you would never expect him to. And even when he broke his 0-19 hitless streak with a single, he was picked off of first base. To me those are definite signs of a player who is pressing and trying to right the wrong too quickly.

For a hitter as talented as Upton, a slump can be a frustrating thing. We know he has the ability to hit and more importantly he knows he has the ability to hit. I don't think any trips to the swing mechanic are necessary at this point because I don't think this slump will last much longer. For Upton, the swing harder method doesn't seem to be the fix. I think it should be an easier approach as in swing easy B.J.....swing easy.

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