The Braves are hot and the new lineup clicking like no other Fredi has tried. Meanwhile B.J. Upton works to get game ready at Gwinnett and the debate among fans about his role when he returns grows. I believe there’s little doubt that he will be inserted directly into the lineup when he returns, likely in the seven spot, and that barring injury and aside from rest days he will remain a fixture in the lineup regardless of his performance at the plate. Supporters of B.J. say he’s a second half player; someone who consistently raises his game after the All Star break. I decided to see if that claim can be objectively supported. To that end I’ve gathered the data and present it with minimal analysis for your perusal.
Just The Facts
While B.J. first appeared for the then Devil Rays in 2004, Baseball Reference records show that he didn’t play in any first half games prior to the 2007. That being the case there is no comparative data for those seasons so I’ve isolated the statistics to the 2007-2012 seasons.
The first half of the season long ago ceased to be half the season. Batting average, OBP, slugging, ISO and BAbip address that in their calculations, but I wanted to see specifically how extra base hits and home runs changed. In order to do that I calculated home runs per at bat and doubles per at bat as well. The last row is career net differential; simply second half numbers minus first half numbers. Here are the results.
All stats courtesy Baseball Reference.com
Second half numbers are in yellow
As you can see the numbers show that early in his career he was a first half guy but that changed in 2010. The most significant difference now is his slugging percentage. His career numbers are pushed up a bit by his 2012 home run surge.
While he hit 24 homers total in 2007 it wasn’t until 2011 that he hit more than 20 again. In the second half of 2012 alone however, he hit 21; I’d call that an outlier not a trend. The rest of his extra base hit numbers have been relatively steady.
That’s A Wrap
My personal view is that the numbers do not indicate he’s significantly a second half player nor do I see a huge second half surge on the horizon. I do believe he will improve but mostly because he’s now been in the National League for half a season and feels more comfortable there. On top of that the Braves are rolling along and there’s less pressure on him to do anything special when everyone else in the lineup is hitting so well. I expect a second half slash somewhere near .245/.320/.400 with a ten homers and a similar number of doubles. if you see it differently let’s hear your take.