Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/5/12

Seeing as George is such a fan of B.J. Upton, I almost let him write this player profile. I’m not a huge fan of Upton, but I can be objective…or at least I can try. Just like Chris Young, who we ranked at 105, Upton is a low-average hitter with an elite power/speed combination. Upton has more speed than Young, stealing 40-plus bases each year from 2008-2010, and finally flashed that 20-homer pop once again last season. His end-of-season ranking has improved annually beginning in 2009, and his xBA last year sat at a pretty-for-Upton .269.

Best case scenario: Curtis Granderson (NYY) with a lot fewer R/RBI
Similar players: Drew Stubbs (CIN), Chris Young (ARI), Carl Crawford (BOS)
Worst case scenario: Cameron Maybin (SD)

Strengths

SB, R. Upton should steal around 40 bases again this season, and batting second in a good Tampa Bay lineup should mean plenty of runs as well. Upton walks a good amount, 11.2 percent of his plate appearances for his career, which helps offset that likely low batting average. Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce will follow him in the lineup, and each is capable of driving in 90-plus runs.

Weaknesses

BA. Upton’s 18.3 percent line drive rate last season was his best over the last three years and more in line with what he was doing when he first came up to the bigs. Back in those days Upton finished two seasons with averages of .300 (2007) and .273 (2008) before things really went south for him. He’ll need to prove he can hit that high again before we project it, but its a serious possibility.

ADP Report (67.4)

When we were compiling our top 200 rankings, the three of us involved in the ranking process ranked Upton 88th, 75th and 73rd. Now almost two months later, I’d probably rank Upton around 60 (these changes will be reflected in our spring training rankings update). Having said that, I think this is a great spot to take Upton. Like we said before about players who post low averages but good power/speed totals, you’ll need to find other plays with strengths that balance out your roster, but because of Upton’s perceived weaknesses, his ADP will likely be lower than his end-of-season rank. If Upton bats .240 with 20 homers and 40 steals, he’s a top-40 player.

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