The Atlanta Braves famously relied on a boom or bust lineup in 2013. They counted on hitters such as Dan Uggla, Justin Upton, and B.J. Upton who hit a lot of home runs and also strike out quite frequently.
Uggla and B.J. Upton, in particular, bottomed out last year. Upton’s failure was spectacular: .184/.268/.289 in 446 plate appearances. He had only nine home runs and a woeful 56 wRC+. What might be the most striking about Upton’s struggles offensively is the fact that he was a -0.6 fWAR despite being a plus plus defender in the outfield.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com spoke recently with Braves hitting coach Greg Walker, who believes Upton has had a good off-season and should be back on track for 2014. Fun fact: the conversation took place at Uggla’s wedding:
I talked to him at Danny’s wedding, and he told me he felt great and that he’d been working…I told him I was going to come down. So I just took a quick trip down to just kind gauge where he was at. He’s done some good work. [His swing] is a lot closer to what it was when he first broke into the league.”
While 2013 showed us just how low Upton’s floor is, the guy still has a sky high ceiling. The Braves are contenders already, so one can hardly overstate the impact it would have if Upton turned things around.