Jun 29, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton (2) reacts with umpire Ted Barrett (65) after striking out against the Philadelphia Phillies during the sixth inning at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Open letter of apology to B.J. Upton


I doubt anyone has been any tougher on B.J. Upton that yours truly, and with his recent and refreshing 10 game hitting streak (snapped only yesterday) since being moved to the leadoff spot in the Atlanta Braves’ lineup, I felt it was time for me to formally apologize to the elder Upton, and eat a little crow.

Anyone who watches the game of baseball, and certainly anyone who watches the Braves, should know why I’ve been tough on him. Oh, I could easily have directed my ire toward Frank Wren, responsible for the bozo move of signing him to a 5 year, $75,000,000 dollar contract in the first place, but Frank was just being Frank then.

It’s the player who’s getting paid and not producing I have to reserve my ire for ultimately, and it was B.J. Upton’s obvious lack of production through countless experiments that had my dander up.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez loves to experiment, and he’s tweaked this lineup more than a drill sergeant working with a dozen Gomer Pyles! So it’s not so unusual that Fredi would have tried BJ Upton in almost every spot in the lineup, from early to late, and everywhere in between. No matter where he had been previously placed though, BJ Upton couldn’t hit the broad side of an Indiana Barn.

It wasn’t just his lack of production either, but a number of other non-stat intangibles that irritated me.

Upton had absolutely no reason, in the large majority of the strikeouts he’s been called on, to argue with the plate umpire. Not only were most of the pitches where he argued actually strikes, but when you struggle to get above the Mendoza line in average, a little humility goes a long way with staff, players, and fans. Sure, I get that sometimes players fuss out of frustration, and B.J. certainly had ample reason to be frustrated, but he failed to realize time-and-time again, that Braves’ fans were even more frustrated!

Well, I don’t need to beat that dead horse anymore, or at least beat what I hope is a dead horse – that seemingly insurmountable regression the elder Upton was mired in.

As you all know, Fredi Gonzalez tried Jason Heyward at leadoff, because afterall it worked last year! He tried newbie Tommy La Stella and that worked okay for awhile, and Fredi has tweaked around with that spot in the lineup incessantly. No, in the absence of any true leadoff hitter, I cannot say I blame him – but it sure took long enough for him to figure out that BJ Upton just might be the ticket there!

BJ Upton has always fancied himself more of a power hitter than he is, but with his speed and natural ability to make contact when he applies himself, he perhaps should have been one of the more obvious choices, certainly more obvious than Jason Heyward.

However the Braves came to the decision to put Upton at leadoff, the experiment seems to be working. BJ Upton now has a 10 game hitting streak at that position, getting one hit in 9 of those 10 games, and having a multi-hit game last night.

Furthermore, you could argue that BJ Upton’s uptick in production, and obvious success at leadoff, has enlivened and rejuvenated the rest of this Atlanta Braves offense. That’s certainly true if the last 8 games (priot to the snap of that streak yesterday) are any evidence. Sure, the schedule of late has been soft, but the Braves are swinging away, stealing bases, playing small ball, staying within themselves well, and playing like the talent they have. Heck, even the pitching has improved!

So with all that said, let me move on to my letter of apology, and eat a little crow.

BJ,

I’ve not been a fan, and I’ve not supported you as an Atlanta Brave. Frankly, you’ve given me no reason to other than the fact that you wear an Atlanta Braves’ uniform.

Oh, I always support my team, and every player on it in the sense that I root for each player, and hope they all do well! I’ve rooted for you sir, and rooted hard, but I’ve also been exceedingly critical of your attitude, your lack of humility, and most of all your missing bat!

That’s going to change now, and so I apologize for any flack I’ve given you, or bad energy I may have somehow floated your way.

You’re doing really well in the leadoff spot, and I hope you continue to do so. You’re certainly getting paid enough that you should, so in truth you’re only doing what you should have been doing all along.

A part of me thinks the jury is still out, but I’ll reserve judgement, tone down my criticism, and hope that you and Mr. Mendoza will forever part company.

Sincerely,

Chris Headrick

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Tags: Atlanta Braves B.J. Upton

  • fireboss

    Ten games hitting poor quality pitching earns an apology? Well no for two reasons; I don’t blame BJ and if I did this mini streak wouldn’t be enough to change my mind. Oh and a 1o game mini streak isn’t all that rare, Reuben Tejada had a 10 game streak that doesn’t make him better than the replacement level player he is.
    When BJ faced a good but not first class pitcher (Mylie) he was back to his usual self swinging at pitches never in the zone and taking knee high center cut strikes and arguing. Having said that it really isn’t BJ’s fault that he’s BJ. I don’t blame him for taking the $$$, if they offered it to me I’d take it as would you. Every metric new and old showed a league average or declining player prior to signing and after saying he was going to get a leadoff hitter the GM signed BJ for $4m more than the closest offer (Phillies) and proclaimed him the answer. I hope BJ continues to be successful because I want the Braves to be successful but I won’t apologize for telling the truth. He’s an overpaid marginally above average player who can be a serious threat on the bases but doesn’t get on often enough, strikes out too often, argues too much and has inexplicable defensive lapses.
    Fortunately we are in stretch against sub 500 teams where he may find more success as we need to build up as big a cushion as we can muster before we face the better teams in August and September

    • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

      I suppose I wasn’t ironic enough, although I tried subtly to be, or it was lost on you. Also, for BJ, a 10 game streak is exceedingly rare! BJ has never hit against any soft parts of previous schedules, so soft or not, he may well have found his niche. As I said, no one has been harder on BJ, so personally I felt the need to apologize, at least in an ironic fashion. I didn’t ask anyone else to.

      • fireboss

        We really need a sarcasm font for such things as I obviously left my irony recognition program in the bedroom when I awoke this morning. I guess I was reacting to the general tone over the weekend that “BJ is Back” and the national commentators who can’t get their facts right. I’ve been reading you long enough to recognize such things so I am thus chastised and officially awake – at 12:45. :)

        • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

          LOL. No worries man. You all know I cannot stand BJ, but I “have” been very hard on him, so I thought I would let everyone know that I’m at least hopeful his new spot as leadoff will continue to help him get outside his own head, be a little more humble, and perhaps that thankfulness for what he has will translate at least somewhat into him being half the player he used to be.

          And Brandon, we obviously have different sets of eyes, because I haven’t seen hardly any arguments that BJ had any ground on. Even if he did, when you’re hitting below .200, you should learn some humility and keep your mouth shut. I would argue BJ’s problems to a great extent have been his brash bravo outside of having any cause to have such.

          • Dewayne Meeks

            Please the bum was back to his usual three strikeouts and a weak foul out.

          • Poop MgGeeh

            ooh yea and the braves lost, stop hating on BJ you “internet” tough guy, your weak, and BJ would love to kick your sorry ass for saying all that trash

    • Brandon_Woodworth

      Every metric? Even the ones that consistently show him to be a 3 win player on average before joining the Braves? And it’s a negative thing that BJ has such an eye that he won’t swing at pitches that aren’t strikes, even if he gets incorrectly rung up? Anyone who has watched a single game can tell you that most of BJ’s arguments are well deserved. If you guys are upset at a player getting overpaid to be what he is, you might not like where baseball is going in the next few years.

      • fireboss

        Since 2007/2008 OBP Down, BA Down, K/BB down, WOBA flat, Only slugging, ISO are up. And no, most of his arguments aren’t justified. He’s been called out on both edges of the plate as well as on center cut strikes consistently. Sure he’s had some bad calls but no more than anyone else has had no matter what the Twitterverse thinks. None that I can call were egregiously bad calls. You can take those with one strike or two but when you’re down two strikes they were too close to take. A hitter has to go defensive and foul those off. Making it worse, when you are a known complainer – which he’s become since coming over – you get less lea way; right or wrong that’s the way it is and he should know that, he’s not a rookie.

  • Bradley Caine

    How how was sacred cow/ anti Uggla Tommy LaStella okay at leadoff ? Batting .100 or there about and not even walking. Far from okay.

    • Dewayne Meeks

      Did i miss it uggla batting leadoff.uggla and bj are interchangeable,both are taking our money as fans and living the high life and laughing at the people that gives them millions for no reason

      • Bradley Caine

        Uggla did not. The anti Uggla as clear posted did and failed. Fans don’t pay players, TV contracts do. Players play to win and do well, they are not wired like fans who would have already quit.

  • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

    Well Fred you are right. Few weeks back you mentioned everytime you rag on B.J. people come out of the woodwork to attack you. I’ve been called names, told it was the dumbest article ever, and all of that just makes me laugh with glee. LOL. Nothing like opinions to divide the masses and drive traffic.

    • fireboss

      One wonders about their motives. They aren’t short about calling for CJ’s head but boy say something about BJ and his fan club attacks. maybe it’s just an every other letter of teh al;phabet thing. If we had a DJ we couldn’t say anything except positive things about him but EJ is fair game. I dunno it makes no sense

      • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

        You are correct, for anyone who actually watches baseball and understands the game, the defense of B.J., to me, can only be attributed to the philosophy that “if you support the team, you support all the players”. I had people ask me why I couldn’t just support the team and the players. I replied that they must not have read the article. I clearly said in the article, “Oh, I always support my team, and every player on it in the sense that I root for each player, and hope they all do well!” Still, if a player is hurting a team as B.J. has done since his arrive (arguably up until very recently), then proper analysis calls for honest and truthful opinions. At TT, we don’t bury our heads in the sand..

  • Poop MgGeeh

    B.J. Upton was paid by Liberty Media Inc. by 12/31/12 for a check of $3,000,000 USD, then made $12,450,000 the upcoming season, so $15,450,000 has been paid before this season in total! Oh yea, another $13,450,000, then 14, 15, and 16….. i see a “designated for assignment in the upcoming future” lol

  • Poop MgGeeh

    BJ hits great for a while and the braves were looking really great for 9 games, then “ONE” is say “ONE” strikeout and the whole world blows a tampon in braves country! Hahahhah

  • Ryan Cothran

    BJ since entering the leadoff spot: .669 OPS. Take back apology IMMEDIATELY! All in good fun.

    • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

      hehe yes, the apology was meant as ironic, and in good fun anyway, but it sure set off a firestorm. It was tongue-n-cheek, but as I told Fred, I guess not clearly ironic enough. I really had no intention of an apology, although I WILL try to tone down my vitriol regarding beej.