Originally posted on Fantasy Baseball 365  |  Last updated 3/25/12

Key Stats: Justin Upton’s strikeout rate went down by 9% last season while he actually gained power. Upton was called up at age 19 and this is a classic case of a player developing at the Major League level. The decrease in strikeouts resulted in a 16 point gain in his average.

Skeptics Say: On the road last year Upton hit just .246 with an OPS of .767. Certainly ordinary numbers for a player taken this high in a draft, but perhaps this is the next thing for him to develop as he puts his game together. Also, given his final line of more than 30 home runs and 20 steals, this might just be picky.

Peer Comparison: It’s hard to believe, but Justin Upton is only going to be 24 this season. He will hit his 100th career home run probably in mid to late May this season. Here’s a look at how he compares with two outfielders that are going about 1 round after him.


Player

Age

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Curtis Granderson

31

136

41

119

25

.262

Josh Hamilton

31

80

25

94

8

.298

Justin Upton

24

105

31

88

21

.289


Granderson obviously had a career year last season, but we can’t expect him to replicate that this season – especially the runs scored. Given the ages of all three players, Upton actually should continue to grow while the other two players could regress. This is a case where there is a significant difference between two rounds.

Lineup Outlook: Paul Goldschmidt has a .981 OPS thus far in Spring Training. He’s a favorite of many to breakout including myself. Given the way that balls carry out of Chase Field and Goldschimdt’s power in his cup of coffee last season, there’s no reason to think he can’t hit 30 home runs. Additionally it is realistic to think that with at-bats Jason Kubel, Ryan Roberts, and Chris Young get to that level as well.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #6 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #4 Outfielder & #8 Overall; Yahoo: #4 Outfielder & #10 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #4 Outfielder & #10 Overall; RotoChamp: #20 Outfielder

Projection: Upton will continue to progress and stay healthy for a second straight season.

102 R 32 HR 96 RBI 22 SB .290 AVG .905 OPS in 650 plate appearances

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