For the record, B.J. quit on me first
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1:00 PM
First, a disclaimer.
I don't have it in me to hate anyone. I've tried, and it's just not there.
But whatever this feeling is inside of me that swells every time I'm watching my beloved Atlanta Braves and the (appropriately numbered) player wearing No. 2 steps to the plate, it's doing a pretty good impression of that most awful of emotions.
You see, B.J. Upton has ruined my summer. Okay, that's harsh - but he's at least contributed.
The much-maligned Braves' outfielder might go down as the worst free-agent signing in a decade, and that's saying something after the Braves signed anemic second baseman Dan Uggla to a $55 million deal, just one year before his inevitable decline came to fruition.
B.J. is worse. On so many levels.
This season, the second in his five-year, $72.25 million-dollar contract, Upton is hitting for an inexcusable .210 average, with eight homers, 18 stolen bases and 29 RBIs.
Those are slightly better numbers than he put up last season, but still terrible.
His current average is .034 points below his career average of .244 (he'd never hit below .237 before arriving in Atlanta), and his home run numbers dropped from 51 dingers in two years before leaving Tampa Bay to 17 in two years in Atlanta.
Upton's not the only Brave to under-perform, he's just the only one who never seems to get better.
He was sold to us by Atlanta general manager Frank Wren as a five-tool player, but he's looked more like a little-league bench player who gets into the game and makes rookie mistakes. It's the little things he should have picked up by now. You know, the fundamentals. Instead, he takes strike three (one more and I'm going to scream!), he makes bone-head decisions on the basepaths and takes bad angles on fly balls.
He also argues the majority of those strike-three calls, which isn't against the rules but just doesn't reflect well when you're hitting
I would say "Well, at least he stays healthy," but we're worse off with him in the game. He's a $13.5 million-a-year pinch-runner, at best.
Now we're stuck with him. Worse, the organization still owes him $46.4 million over the next three years, thanks to a back-loaded contract. This isn't the NFL, where a team can just cut you from the roster.
It'd be funny if it were anyone else, but it's not - it's my Braves.
I guess there's nothing left to do but have fun with the numbers:
n Upton has either watched or whiffed at strike three 297 times (as of Tuesday), which means the Braves have payed him $87,205 for each time he's struck out.
n If you're keeping score at home, that also means he's made $1.52 million per home run.
n His batting average (.210), slugging percentage (.329), on-base percentage (.278) all rank dead-last among National League outfielders.
n His contract, on the other hand, ranks as the seventh-highest for an NL outfielder - Just behind his brother, Braves left fielder Justin Upton.
n Among those players he will out-earn this season are former league MVPs Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen and NL home-run king Giancarlo Stanton, who entered Wednesday with 16 more home runs this season than B.J. has hit in the last two combined.
It's got to be embarassing. If it isn't, it should be.
I can't fault the guy for not giving the money back. Heck, I wouldn't. But lay down a bunt. Lean-in to a few pitches. Do something.
If not, it's going to make my annual struggle to transition from baseball to football way too easy.
Contact Madison County Journal Sports Editor Tyler Cleveland at email@example.com or (601) 853-4222 (ext. 38).