B.J. Upton has become a head case

B.J. Upton argued with umpire after one of his strikeouts in San Francisco. (Bay Area News Group photo)

B.J. Upton argued with umpire after one of his strikeouts in San Francisco. (Bay Area News Group photo)

B.J. Upton argued with umpire after one of his recent strikeouts. (Bay Area News)

The biggest problem with B.J. Upton may no longer be that he can’t hit — it’s that he has lost all perspective.

Upton is hitting a sparkling .203 with a league-leading 56 strikeouts in 143 at-bats this season. Apparently in B.J.’s own private Idaho, that’s dramatic improvement from hitting .189 with 151 strikeouts in 391 at-bats a year ago.

If Upton was still in little league, the coach probably would move him up from eighth to seventh in the batting order and give him an extra juice box. Instead, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team has had problems scoring runs, actually had the temerity to drop Upton in the order from second to fifth to sixth.

Big meanie.

Upton was benched in Sunday’s win in St. Louis. He had struck out 13 times in his previous 19 at-bats, and I know what you’re thinking: Was he swinging a toothpick?

In a season and two months as a Brave, Upton has more than twice as many strikeouts (207) as hits (101).

Upton had hit a stretch where he was only slightly awful, not completely useless. In 14 games while batting second, he hit .220 with a .350 on-base percentage. But neither he nor the lineup was producing enough runs so Gonzalez slide him down in the order and moved Justin (The Better) Upton up to No. 2. B.J. had a .167 on-base percentage in the next 11 games and his strikeout ratio spiked (again).

“Yeah, but I’m not saying that’s it,” he said. “But I never really felt well where I’m at now (in the sixth spot) in the past, so … Do I want to hit there? No.”

I guess when a professional athlete is handed a five-year, $75 million contract, he feels he’s entitled to the benefit of the doubt. But Upton lost that a long time ago.

He is hitting .213 (23-for-108) batting second, .000 (0-for-3) batting fifth and .188 (6-for-32) batting sixth. There are only two absolutes when it comes to Upton: 1) He stinks no matter what here he is in the order; 2) He’s a head case.

A little accountability would be nice.

Here’s a link to a column I wrote on Upton in April. In this excerpt, we discuss the criticism he has faced:

Upton is aware of the public criticism. Actually, he’s probably too aware. Be careful about venturing onto Twitter or onto the Internet when your career looks like a grease fire because you’ll find no comfort there.

“Oh yeah. They’re all over me already,” Upton said about fan criticism Tuesday. “Whatever. They don’t have to come out and play.”

So you go on Twitter a lot?

“I check it every once in a while. If you don’t check it out, it backs up (with messages) and you have to scroll all the way to the top. So I see it. But that’s the thing about social media these days. Everybody has something to say. But like I said: They don’t have to play, and I don’t have to see them. I play for these 24 (players) and these coaches.”

He might just want to start looking in the mirror instead of Twitter.

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Reader Comments 0

157 comments
TomGaff
TomGaff

How much longer do we have to wait until BJ(hitting under .200) is treated the same as Uggla? Or does he get to play out the length of his contract for whatever reason?

Biff_Pocoroba
Biff_Pocoroba

Also, Heyward is a bust. Not nearly enough production from RF.

Biff_Pocoroba
Biff_Pocoroba

Someone should be held responsible for the Uggla and Upton contracts. Does this franchise care enough to fire anyone? No. They care more about their new stadium/mall built.

satchel
satchel

as for wren, he made a mistake with signing BJ.  that's obvious.  but i dont think the uggla signing was his mistake.  i'd have signed him, and most all of us would have.  it's not wren's fault that uggla forgot how to hit suddenly.  and i wasnt in favor of the BJ signing BUT who could've expected this awfulness?  i dont blame wren for that.  what i blame the braves for, though, is sticking with uggla for so long.  it's killed us.  and if we do the same with BJ, we're in for some big trouble.  dont judge wren so much for what he's done (signing those 2), but judge him for how he handles such a bad situation as we move forward.  it aint all fredi making the decisions on who plays.  let's just hope wren & co. do  something, and dont repeat the same mistakes with BJ that they made with uggla.

Jerry916
Jerry916

Uggla is still on the Braves’ roster, because they do not want to eat the remaining money on his contract, ~$22 mil, so there is no way that BJ is going to be treated any differently, with the amount of cash that they owe him.

He’s going to be given as much time as possible, without damage to playoff chances, as they can afford him, before they do something drastic.Same as they did with Uggs.The Braves’ purse strings may have loosened some, but they will not behave like the NY Yankees!

satchel
satchel

@Jerry916  i agree with you, jerry, but they need to change their approach.  we stuck with uggla way too long, and he's never come around.   i'd give BJ his chance, again this season, but i'd change direction by the end of june if he hasnt turned it around.  which he wont.

Jerry916
Jerry916

Went back to review BJ’s stats after reading one Bloggers’ post.This is BJ’s 10th season in the majors, and in all but two of those, he has had more Ks than hits.

His last year in Tampa was not spectacular.He has never scored 90 runs in a season, nor has he ever driven in 90 runs in a season.He had 31 steals his last season in Tampa, and they declined 3 of his last 4 seasons in Tampa.

I’m trying to figure out what Wren’s fascination over him was.Maybe it was to lure his brother Justin to the Braves.

Don’t hate on BJ, he’s doing what he’s always done…hate on Wren!

satchel
satchel

he looks like a head case to me too.   the constant arguing of balls & strikes is just childish.  his arrogance is on display every time he takes the field.  whenever you see that combination--arrogance and refusal to accept blame--you've got a problem.  then add drama to the mix--lashing out at fredi for dropping him in the order--and it seems we may have a personality disorder on our hands.  most likely narcissistic personality disorder. any way you look at it, he's a head case.   i'd send him to a therapist and get a psychological profile.  no joke.  if  he's NPD, best move is to drop him now.  otherwise, you've got a cancer on yr hands for certain.  

Jerry916
Jerry916

BJ, forget about Twitter and the rest of social media until your season is complete.  Focus on the positive, and helping the Braves have a successful season.

Catch up on that stuff in the offseason.

Wren signed BJ to a huge contract, even though many on the ole blog thought it was a bad move.If the blog contributors can see this, why can’t the guy being paid to make this call, see it?

This could very well be the last season for Wren and Fredi.That’s why their contact end dates were not disclosed.It makes it easier for the team to function, not knowing the status of the manager beyond this season…They all know that the Braves will not make a change in season, but they don’t know what the status is beyond this season, so the players can’t turn a deaf ear to Fredi.

Legendary
Legendary

BJ is so worried about his spot in the lineup and his apparently key mechanism of getting his foot down quickly enough, but it seems to me that he has completely abandoned the fundamental of watching the baseball as you swing at it.  His head is completely facing forward as he swings through pitches over the middle of the plate, and he misses by inches.  How can he and his hitting instructors not address this?  I'm just a Little League coach and lifelong player--who, by the way, was always a very good hitter--so maybe I'm just armchair quarterbacking...  I'd love to see his eyes track the ball all the way to the bat consistently.  His timing seems fine to me; I feel like it's just an accuracy thing that is not at all conducive to making contact with the uppercut swing he has.  Just sayin'...

dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

Guy was a decent player who had a good year in a contract year. Last year's 151 Ks were the second lowest of his career. He's been a strikeout machine and a marginal hitter with a little pop before coming to Atl.

When a .240 hitter slumps you get what we have. A guy who is worthless at the plate.

Nowhere close to worth what they are paying him.

jaxspp
jaxspp

I've never heard of anyone who wasn't injured coming back from hitting below .200. Pick up a cheap free agent or bring someone up from the minors, he and Uggla are done.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

Can you have a Tee in the Majors? That's a shame.

CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith
CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith

Fire the SOB!  Who cares who picks him up.  As if some dummy would.  And if they do, the payout on this abortion of an aquisition is reduced.

Liberty media can re-coup some money by firing Wren and replacing him with a set of darts and a listing of 'free agents' every year.

tneck
tneck

I think it is poor hitting instruction.  It's their job to teach him how to hit.  It's not that hard to make contact.  You may not get a hit but putting the bat on the ball is not that difficult.  Until he gets out of this slump he needs to go to bat and tell himself that he has two strikes on himself.  That way his swing is protective of the plate.  Just get the bat on the ball.  Maybe he doesn't hit a HR but he might poke a single through.

AlternativeDawg
AlternativeDawg

He and uggla should be booed every time the bat. They are robbing the braves

frenzy_army
frenzy_army

BJ was always a jerk off. I have a friend that is a Rays fan and said that we would highly regret signing him. Crappy player and an a-hole. 

TampGator1
TampGator1

@frenzy_army


There are 5 Rays fans to your one fan that would disagree with you, especially after his production down the stretch during his last season with the Rays.  I am sure one of someone's Braves fan buddies will agree with someone that he or she will highly regret the Braves signing Simmons to a long term deal since he pops up so much. 

J_Bird
J_Bird

I think you need to tell us how you really feel....

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

$75 million for this clown? What a freaking joke.

RomanLegions
RomanLegions

Choose your words wisely BJ..you do (or should) play for the fans, they pay you.

9awebb
9awebb

What are the Braves to do? The contract is signed. BJ is too lousy and too expensive to trade. It's easy to hammer Wren. It's impossible to see the future. But it's the career he chose and so far he's had some bad misses. Maybe stop worrying about the "big splash" and find some guys that can hit. I don't care how unknown they are. It's cool to be in first place but think of where we would be with an offense as dominating as the pitching. 

BigBillBounceback
BigBillBounceback

I'm pretty sure in any contract there has to be consideration.

If BJ ( they call me that cause you can bl*w me if you don't like my batting average) gives no consideration for the compensation given, the Braves should be able to void the contract (or at least collect on the insurance policy)

BSNBC
BSNBC

Cut Upton, Heywood and Uggla!   All over-paid losers!

TampGator1
TampGator1

@BSNBC


And then play......whom?  Schafer, a player who can't hit lefties and strikes out almost a much as Upton does?  Doumit, who has limited defensive skills and can't run a lick?  Or Pena, a career sub who was released by the Yankees?  Yeah boy, that will certainly make the Braves a better first place team.

Archangel
Archangel

classof98,


Your comparisons have more to do with the age we live in and the fact that we no longer live in caves.  Pearl Harbor also took place in 1941, would you like to brag on that as well?

Classof98
Classof98

Joe DiMaggio stuck out 196 times combined over his first SEVEN seasons.  In 1941, the year of the 56-game hitting streak, DiMaggio struck out 13 times. 


BJ Upton will strike out 13 times over a 3-game weekend series.

Classof98
Classof98

... and over those seven season, the Yankees paid DiMaggio a grand total of $189,750.  That amounts to 0.2% of what the Braves will pay BJ for four seasons.


I hope you guys enjoy those $9 beers at the Ted.  

TampGator1
TampGator1

@Classof98


No one said or posted that B,J, is as good as DiMaggio.  And the money comparison is just dumb.

Retired2x
Retired2x

It's hard to play major league baseball with your head stuffed up your #@^. 

NCDawg
NCDawg

There is a reason why it is called a mind _F.  He needs a sport psychologist in the worst way.  He has zero objectivity about his issues now.  Where you hit in the lineup is a small factor in actually making contact.  Maybe you won't drive in a bunch of runs but the first step is to get the bat on the ball.

ccatlanta
ccatlanta

@NCDawg Remember when John Smolz had a sport psychologist who had to wear red and sit behind the home plate whenever John pitched. The Braves should see if that guy's available for BJ. He sure helped Smolz.

rogerpellerin
rogerpellerin

Joe Maddon couldn't wait to get rid of B.J. The guy is lousy and has a bad attitude. Wren was conned by

his agent. Release both B.J. and Wren  right now.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@rogerpellerin


That is not true.  I live in the Tampa Bay area and have followed the Rays for years now and am a huge Braves fan.  The Rays could not afford to keep B.J. and they had a young CF behind him that was rated very highly, who also has become a little bit of a disappointment.  B.J. only had one team issue in his entire time with the Rays, was a good teammate, and was involved in the community.  He works very hard to be successful.  WIth Uggla and B.J., you just have to wonder if both were using PEDs before the Braves signed them and not now.  You just don't drop off like they have usually as a hitter at their ages.   

jamesatl
jamesatl

@rogerpellerin I don't see how Wren is not wearing Upton (and Uggla) right now. Why is he so great again?

CraigSelf
CraigSelf

Don't go to the games and eventually the Braves,(Wren) will get the message and hopefully clean this mess up. Their scared to bench BJ because of the reprocations it will have with Justin.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@DawgNole


I moved from Chicago to Atlanta in 1978 and watched the Braves flounder during the regular season for many, many years....and then watched them flounder in the playoffs for 13 of 14 division winning titles. But, even so, I would take winning 90 plus games during the regular season and going to the playoffs and losing over losing 90 plus games and never going to the playoffs every single time.  Just ask a Cubs fan about that.

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@TampGator1 TampGator1.... you have to remember... it's all or nothing with those like Blog Troll....  if you don't win it all, you had a bad season...  hard to believe that baseball is as popular as it is with fans like Blog Troll believing that they've only had 27 good seasons in a few over a hundred... and they are the best baseball has to offer.... SO glad that most fans don't feel the way Blog Troll does.

ComaToes
ComaToes

@CraigSelf  I'm thinking there may already be a boycott by some fans.  There was an article just the other day, somewhat buried, that indicated the attendance is down by 3,000 fans per home game in comparison with this time last year.  That's quite a bit, and adds up to a lot of money over a year's time.  All I can say is that it's about time. This year so far is plodding along just like last year and we know how that turned out.  The Braves were handed first place by the other teams in the division, and went "poof" when the playoffs started. With this lineup, this manager, and this top management even first place this year would be a major accomplishment.  It would have to be handed to them again, and that could very well happen.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@CraigSelf


Yeah....don't go watch or support the current, first-lpace Atlanta Braves. Where did you pick up that.....from Wal Mart's discount ideas aisle?   Just brilliant.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TampGator1 @YogiBare  

And that has earned them exactly what in terms of postseason success? You know, postseason--when it REALLY matters.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TampGator1 @DawgNole  

I don't think the only choice is winning 90-plus or losing 90-plus. How 'bout winning 90-plus and experiencing postseason success more than once in a half-century? That sounds like the best choice to me.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@YogiBare


The Braves had one of the best records in baseball last year and dominated teams in their division, which is a major reason for winning a division title.  No one handed them the title last year.  They earned it by winning 95 games or so, which IS a great accomplishment.  And no one has handed first place to them this year. They have dominated the second place Nationals this year.

sansho1
sansho1

Pretty thin evidence of an attitude problem.  Frustration and a bad attitude may appear similar from a distance (Schultz's preferred perspective), but this assumes the worst motivations by Upton unnecessarily.  Nice juice box imagery, hack.

KathyBaseball
KathyBaseball

“Oh yeah. They’re all over me already,” Upton said about fan criticism Tuesday.  BJ, already? As in 2 years running "already"? I'm patient with the players on my teams to a fault, but K'ing looking has gotten really old.  Enough is enough. 

tmc
tmc

another thing i don't get:

I know Uggla's horrible too, but at least he hustle's and runs into an HR every now and again. He never let his offensive woe's effect his effort or say anything against his manager...

but yet, he get's sat down while BJ continues to play.

They both make about the same amount of money, but you punish the guy who's been slightly better and husttle's his tail off all the time? 
sends the wrong message, don't it?

chem
chem

@tmc  Uggla's sample size as an ineffective starter is larger and downward trend more pronounced.

tmc
tmc

@chem don't agree again. While Uggla has struggled the last 2 years or so... BJ has 150+ k's since 2009. And has been worse than Uggla since he's been in the ATL.
you need to go look at their numbers and compare them over the last 5 or 6 years.

each of the last 2 + years have been bad for both, but BJ was never as good as Uggla and doesn't hustle...

chem
chem

@tmc @chem  You're right, they're both very bad offensively.  Despite his perceived lack of hustle, BJ might have a slight edge defensively over Uggla.  Maybe politics with J Upton plays a role as well.  I doubt either will be in the lineup soon anyways.