Final terms: Upton is five years, $75.25 million with #Braves. Pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2012
Since this is a fantasy site, we have to ask the question, what does this do for Upton’s fantasy value? Well, it’s not going to do any good.
Moving from the American League East to the National League East is generally not a good move for a hitter. The AL East is a glamour division, but it is not known for its pitching. Obviously, guys like C.C. Sabathia have done great things, but no team has a particularly deep pitching staff, with the exception of the Rays, who Upton was obviously not facing.
Tropicana Field is also a decent park for hitters and the road parks in the American League East are all big time hitting yards. Turner Field on the other hand is extremely tough in hitters, as are Citi Field, Nationals Park (especially for righties), and Marlins Park. The only hitting park in the division is Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia, and even that benefits lefties a lot more than right-handed bats.
Now, he’s going to a better pitcher’s park division and will be getting a healthy dose of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, and R.A. Dickey. I’m not seeing how this is going to improve his numbers, which is obviously all that matters in fantasy.
There’s another problem with Upton, and it’s been present for a while. Yes, he’s good for 20-30 homers a year and can steal bases, but he does not get on base nearly enough to be a very valuable fantasy player, especially in the outfield. Let’s look at the last four years in Tampa.
- 2009: .241 average/.313 OBP/152 strikeouts
- 2010: .237 average/.322 OBP/164 strikeouts
- 2011: .243 average/.331 OBP/161 strikeouts
- 2012: .246 average/.298 OBP/169 strikeouts
Now, there are a few positives here. Upton will be in a good lineup with the likes of Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward developing into really good all-around players. If Dan Uggla and/or Brian McCann can find their old hitting strokes, the lineup looks a lot better. So, depending on where he bats in the lineup, I can see Upton scoring 85 or more runs. Also, in the National League, I would expect the stolen bases to at least stay the same, and he’s averaged 36 over the last three years.
But Turner Field and the NL East will not do anything for his power totals, and the pitchers listed above are all licking their chops at those high strikeout totals. Upton is only 28, but his ability to get on base has actually gone down as he’s gotten older, and that’s extremely troublesome.
Looking at the dollar figures, I certainly don’t fault Upton for signing that contract, and the Braves certainly need some right-handed power now that the switch-hitting Chipper Jones has retired. But from a fantasy baseball point of view, this is not a good move for Upton’s value.