When the Atlanta Braves agreed to acquire the Brothers Upton, fans of the deal admired the potential of Atlanta’s outfield from afar. So much range and defensive ability, so much power. Sure, Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, and Jason Heyward figured to strikeout a lot as a group, but c’est la vie. It’s 2013, everybody strikes out, right?
Not so simple, it seems. After a whooping three game, the Braves lead all non-Astros teams in K rate as an outfield. They also faced the Phillies fearsome threesome of Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Roy Halladay (:(), no strangers to strikeout rates.
No matter. The Braves strike out too much and it’s a problem, even if the Braves lost their first game of the season last night. While Atlanta overcame their strikeout tendencies the first two games of the year, pounding home runs off Hamels and Halladay, it is now a big issue because Cliff Lee doesn’t hand out homers to every Tom, Dick and Harry. He’s Cliff GD Lee, he doesn’t cotton to any shenanigans.
Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon struck out 10 Braves in shutting out the BARVES 2-0. Crisis!
The group of Upton, Upton, and Heyward can surely be judged as a group but it is B.J. Upton who is doing the most “damage.” While his brother Justin makes an immediate impact in the ATL, hitting two home runs and drawing three walks in his first three game, B.J. struggles. The Elder Upton is yet to collect his first hit as a Brave, going 0-11 with seven strikeouts.
Sad as it might be, free agent signings don’t get three game grace periods to start the season. So B.J. Upton gets asked about his slow start and a cursory twitter search turns up the exact kind of result you expect.
Yup, the Braves are going to strike out. They will also walk and hit home runs and catch everything hit their way. This weekend, they get to face the ass-end of the Cubs rotation, which isn’t exactly Hamels/Lee/Ghost of Halladay.
The Braves knew what they were getting into when they built their team this way. Just as Getting Blanked wrote at the time, Upton’s skill set isn’t easily appreciated by the “casual” fans that tend to hate players who strike out too much. It will be a tough sell, right up until the moment the fans come together and realize just how good their team actually is.
And the rest
The DJF Podcast from yesterday. Included as programming reminder that there is no Getting Blanked podcast today (or yesterday) as we move into our new space. Back Monday (fingers crossed.) [DJF]
Hey, at least they scored one!
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) April 5, 2013