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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: BLUE JAYS GO WITH MELVIN UPTON JR. AND NOT JAY BRUCE

After weeks and weeks of endless speculation about the Toronto Blue Jays dogged pursuit of power-hitting Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, the two sides never got to an end point in negotiations to complete a swap.  Instead the Blue Jays turned their attention to Melvin Upton Jr. who was in the midst of a very good comeback season with the San Diego Padres.  Ultimately a deal was agreed upon late Monday night and so Upton Jr. moved into a much more potent offensive ballpark in Rogers Center to help his already improved numbers.  So let's dig in a bit more on this deal as always:

Melvin Upton Jr.:  At one time a very promising and productive outfielder during his early years in baseball with the Tampa Bay Rays, Upton was a guy who could smack 15-20 home runs and run like the wind as he put up 40-stolen base campaign.  As great as the category juice was, Upton at the same time was a major batting average liability as he began to routinely put up averages at or below .240 which took shine off his power and speed game.  Things got so bad that the Rays gave up on Upton and then things got even worse with the Atlanta Braves after he signed a free agent contract there.  In 2013 Upton has one of the very worst seasons a hitter has ever had in the modern era as he somehow batted just .184 in 446 at-bats.  Things were not much better in 2014 as Upton only got the average up to .208 as he was completely lost at the dish under K rates that approached or went over 30 percent.  Alas Upton got a fresh chance with the Padres starting in 2015 when in an injury-marred campaign, hit .259 with 5 home runs and 9 steals to at least show some ability remained. 

Fast forward to present day and Melvin Upton Jr. has been one of the better comeback stories of 2016 as he goes into his Blue Jays tenure with the following numbers:

.256
16 HR
20 SB
46 R
45 RBI

Look at the power and speed?  The 16 homers and 20 steals would be a terrific output for an entire SEASON for most guys and Upton still has more than two months to pad those numbers.  Still young at 31, Upton has not lost his speed and his power is growing more pronounced as he ages which is typical.  While the average remains ugly, at least Upton is not hitting .200 or even .220.  A 28.3 percent K rate remains nasty but a .322 BABIP is helping keep the average from the gutter. 

The last issue here of course is Upton's move to a prime offensive park in Rogers Center which will only help his already impressive power.  Consider that Upton hit 16 home runs while calling Petco Park home and now moving into the launching pad that is Rogers Center?  This should do nothing but good things for Upton's numbers.  Throw in better protection in the lineup and this is a great move for his value. 

All in all, Melvin Upton Jr. has been some story this season and the good times should continue in his new locale.  Props to those who bought awfully low. 


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