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Entries in Justin Upton (10)


About one in three Justin Upton's fly balls are home runs

Joe Sheehan has a great piece in the 5/13 edition of Sports Illustrated presenting the case for Justin Upton.

Sheehan writes about Upton, "He's swinging harder and missing more pitches (a 12% swing-and-miss rate, his highest since 2009), but he's crushing the ones he's hitting: An absurd 35.3% of his fly balls leave the yard."

This got me curious as to who else has a high flyball to HR percentage.

To his credit, Sheehan in his article was quick to point out, "Upton isn't going to hit 60 bombs. His home-run-to-fly-ball rate isn't sustainable; his career mark coming into this year was 13.2%. The league leaders in the category usually end up around 25%."

As you can see from the chart above, Upton has already dropped down to 30.2%.

Not surprisingly, right behind him are Ryan Braun and Bryce Harper, both with numbers in the upper 20th percentile. But it may surprise you (because it did me) how good Mets teammates John Buck and Lucas Duda's numbers are.

Carlos Gomez and Ryan Howard are both at 15.8%

Then you have to look and wonder what s going on with David Wright, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, and Buster Posey, all of whom are in the 13th percentile of flyballs turning into homers.

Take a look at the guys under 10% and you will be amazed to see names including Alfonso Soriano, Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp.

Their teams have to be wondering what happened to the power?

Looking at the AL and we see Mark Trumbo and Michael Morse's power in action

Chris Davis is pounding the baseball and the Indians have to be thrilled with the success of Mark Reynolds and Carlos Santana.

Robinson Cano is making it more and more expensive for the Yankees to keep him. And, Chris Carter and Jose Bautista have identical numbers.

But what has happened to the Red Sox' Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks?

In the 15th percentile are a number of batters including: Miguel Cabrera, Mitch Moreland, Alex Rios, Josh Willingham, Adrian Beltre, Alex Gordon and Mike Trout.

And their numbers are better than Adam Jones, Billy Butler, Albert Pujols (10.6%!) and Josh Hamilton (10.0%!!).

There is a lot of warning track power being exhibited these days, but just remember there is a much better opportunity for something good happening on a fly ball than on a strikeout.


NL Homer & Strikeout Percentage Leaders

I wanted to spend a few moments looking at ultimate results, all or nothing, homers vs. strikeouts.

There are 20 players in AL with at least seven homers this season led by Justin Upton, Bryce Harper, and John Buck.

There are 17 players with at least 36 whiffs in the NL led by Jay Bruce, Dan Uggla, and B.J. Upton.

But who are the batters with a good home run percentage and a decent strikeout percentage?

On this chart you want to be in the lower right corner where you see the effectiveness of Bryce Harper, Carlos Beltran, and Yuniesky Betancourt.

The further left you move on the chart into the lower left corner you see batters who are lower in terms of strikeouts and lower in terms of homers.

This group includes guys without any homers including Ben Revere, Denard Span, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, and Ruben Tejada. But it also includes some low homer hitters like Adrian Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Starlin Castro, Andre Ethier, and Pablo Sandoval.

The upper right corner is comprised of guys who are hitting some homers, but striking out too much: this is where Justin Upton, Buck and Harper are hanging out along with Lucas Duda, Ryan Braun, Dan Uggla, Anthony Rizzo, Paul Goldschmidt, Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer, and a number of other dangerous batters.

The upper left corner are guys who are whiffing without showing power. This unenviable group includes B.J. Upton, Jay Bruce, Adam LaRoche, Rickie Weeks, Matt Kemp, Everth Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano, and numerous others who are frustrating you.


A Tale of Two Uptons

The Atlanta Braves brought both Upton brothers to town over the winter, signing B.J. to a five-year, $75 million free agent contract and acquiring Justin from the Diamondbacks as part of a seven-player megadeal. The younger Upton has been the game's best player in April, pacing the majors with eight home runs while batting .333, getting on base at a .393 clip, and slugging .852. But big bro? B.J. has gone deep just once, and he's hitting .140/.232/.240. Why is Justin killing the ball for the 12-2 Braves, while B.J. is killing rallies? Here's a tale of two Uptons.

Justin Upton

  • Unlike last year, the younger Upton is crushing pitches thrown at the knees. Justin has hit 3 home runs and is slugging nearly .800 versus pitches in the lower third of the strike zone. He hit just 6 homers against low stuff and slugged .394 during the 2012 season.
  • One reason why he's performing so much better against low pitches is that he's not rolling over on the ball. Justin has hit a ground ball a mere 28% of the time in 2013, down from a 44% last year (the MLB average is about 44%).
  • Justin has been deadly with two strikes, swatting six of his eight home runs with his back against the wall. That already matches his two-strike home run total for all of 2012.

B.J. Upton

  • B.J. is making more contact against fastballs, with his miss rate against the heat being cut in half from 28% in 2012 to 14% in 2013. But that extra contact has been weak: His slugging percentage versus fastballs is just .370, compared to .533 last year.
  • While Justin is lofting pitches into the air more than ever, B.J. is struggling to get the ball out of the infield. His ground ball rate has jumped from 41% last year to 50% in 2012.
  • B.J. has been totally helpless with two strikes, going 0-for-23 in such situations. The elder Upton has never been a particularly good two-strike hitter, as his .127 average in two-strike counts since the start of the 2011 season ranks in the bottom ten among qualified batters. But 0-for-23? Brother, can you spare a bat?