[It is all Chris all the time today. He also fired off this cool breakdown of BJ's breakdown.]
Ejections are always somewhat controversial and people’s reaction tend to fall into two broad camps:
- They are the self indulgent tantrums of spoiled athletes which hurt the team’s chance to win, or
- They are evidence of a player’s passion spilling over and show that he is invested in the team.
Generally I would say I am in the latter camp. This is particularly true for someone like Upton who can sometimes give off bad body language which suggests he isn’t as invested in the team’s fortunes as he could be (I’ve never decided if this is fair or not but the perception is certainly there).
Last night’s meltdown perhaps went on a touch long and will likely cost B.J. a couple of games which isn’t ideal, but given the inconsistency of the strike zone calls coupled with the inexplicably overturned play at 1st, I’d suggest Upton’s blow-up echoed what the majority of the team were feeling. The call in question is the red triangle 5 inches off the inside (left) of the plate (strike two is the red triangle 5 inches off the bottom half of the plate on the right):
Graphic courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net
It’s only one game of course and in truth the Rays were a touch fortunate to win on Tuesday but it’s always frustrating when the officials have a big impact on the game. The crew do need credit though for at least conceding that they blew the Fuld call at 1st.
So what do we make of Upton so far this year? His contact rate is currently at a career high (87.9%) but as with last year he is chasing way too much out of the zone (24.3%). The fact that he correctly laid off two outside pitches last night and was punished is therefore annoyingly ironic. His swinging strike percentage is down to 8.7% though and his BABIP hovers below his career rate of .332 at .304 suggesting he has been a little unlucky to date and might gain a small bump in stats in the future if his luck levels out.
His line so far – .248/.342/.758 – is almost exactly in line with his career averages though with four home runs already his power numbers could end up higher on the year. It looks like we will get another solid season from B.J. this year and if last night’s outburst gets him fired up to push harder then I for one am all for it.
As a final point to throw out there, on his recent podcast with Buster Olney, Bill Simmons suggested that moving Upton this year is inevitable and it is just a matter of time before he leaves. The rumours seem to persist that he could be moved regardless of the standings in the summer. Would people be sad to see Upton leave?