We talked about BABIP and Crawford yesterday, let's do the same with B.J. today. That .204 average is mostly an illusion. People keep asking what I mean when I say he's got regressing to do. This is what I mean:
Those are Upton's BABIP splits sorted by batted ball type. Upton's line drives are finding holes at a far better rate than last year. Is that because he's hitting the ball more soundly? I don't know, but he does have an ISO over .500 on line drives hit. 19 hits and eight of them are for extra bases, including both of his homeruns.
You can make two arguments about Upton's lack of GB hits:
1. He's lost speed.
2. He's been unlucky.
You know which way this is going. Upton's Speed Score is above his career average and his fielding remains excellent. Either he's become the most mechanically sound baserunner within the span of a season or he's still pretty damn fast. Given that Upton's strategy for stealing bases is run on the first move and outrun the relay throw to second, I'm going to go with the latter.
Upton has hit 58 groundballs. If he were hitting his career norms he would have 17 hits on grounders instead of 11. Those six hits would make his batting average raise to .237. Great? No, but his line would raise .237/.330/.323 if all were singles. A .653 OPS isn't great, but it looks a lot better than .587.
Upton still needs to curb the strikeout bug again, but it's not like poor luck hasn't played a role in his abysmal start. The lack of power is the other thing that needs fixing. You have to figure that is more of a residual fear than anything else. I believe it was Brian Anderson who mentioned that the training staff told him to forget the first half of this year because it's going to take about that long to get his labrum at full strength.
ZiPS has B.J. with a .769 OPS through the rest of the season. I hope that's correct.