In the first round of the 2002 MLB draft B.J. Upton was selected second overall by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Most baseball fans including myself thought Upton was going to be a star in the very near future and lead the Rays to many playoff appearences. He was supposed to hit .300 every year with 20 homers and 100+ rbi’s. In 2007 he broke into the Rays starting lineup and enjoyed his first full year in the big leagues hitting .300 with 24 HR’s 82 rbi’s and 22 stolen bases. At this point everyone knew that we had an “all star” for years to come. The scouts and the media were calling him “the future of baseball” and “a for sure Hall of Famer”. Unfortunately the critics couldn’t have been more wrong. Since that breaakout year of 2007 he has since dropped from .300, .273, .241, .237, and a dismal .229 in 2011. By looking at the facts Upton obviously is not going to live up to his potential (at least not while in Tampa). So, is it time for Upton to go?
As all Rays fans already know there has been many rumors as to if Upton will be playing in St. Pete or another team after July 31st. Some fans are tired of waiting for Upton’s “potential” to translate to his play, while others believe that he is a major contributor to the Ray’s success because of his defense and speed. I personally am tired of his lackadasical play, his jogging after balls hit to the wall turning doubles into triples, his inability to run out ground balls or even sprint around the bases, and the strikeouts. Upton has already struck out 100 times in 2011 as of July 27th which ranks him 5th in the entire MLB. Throughout his career as a Ray he has been benched on several occasion for his inability to hustle and has even gotten into a brawl with Evan Longoria when the Longoria jumped on him for jogging after a ball in the gap. He was benched by Maddon once when Upton hit a towering fly ball to deep left field. Upton thought that he had hit a homerun and began to jog the bases but the ball hit high off the left field wall and Upton was thrown out at second.
Even with those stats and previous problems attatched to Upton I understand why the Rays and Andrew Friedman would decide to keep him in the organization. In spite of Utons .229 batting average and 100 strikeouts he still leads the team in both homeruns and rbi’s with 15 and 53 respectively. Also when he wants to he can match up with even the best of centerfielders in the league. With his speed and quickness he repeatedly catches ball near the wall and makes fantastic catches and throws. But unfortunately he is just as likely to make a highlight real catch as he is to “dog” it and let these balls drop.
But if fans and the Ray’s front office want Upton out of a Ray’s uniform so badly they need to think about one thing first. Picture this: you are the GM for another team in the MLB and you are in need of an outfielder what are you going to give up for a lazy centerfielder who hits .229 and strikes out about 170-180 times a year. You surley are NOT going to give up a top or even second tier prospect for this are you? I know I sure wouldn’t.
As a Rays fans all we can do is sit back and see what happens I wouldn’t be suprised if Upton remains a Ray or if he is wearing a new uniform by the July 31st deadline. But if I were Upton I would have my bags packed……you know just in case.
article written by Dane Rice (Rays fan since the start).
article written and submitted July 27th.