Extremely Cautious Look at B.J. Upton’s Hot Start | The Process Report

Extremely Cautious Look at B.J. Upton’s Hot Start

The crux of early season analysis is waiting for sample sizes to reach levels where we can actually start putting stock in the data we used to verify or de-bunk what we see played out on the field. While I’m not willing to make any proclamations or suggest something will continue, I did do some brief checking on B.J. Upton’s hot start. Each year we wait for Upton to burst through the glass ceiling into superstardom. This may never manifest itself over the course of a full season, but in the meantime, we have been treated to Upton’s potential in bursts. The first week of the season qualifies as such.

Through the first seven games and 27 plate appearances, Upton is hitting .360/.407/.680. Those are great numbers for the first week, but all unlikely to continue once we lump another 600 appearances on his plate. That said, there have been some really good signs from B.J. so far.

First, Upton is continuing to show power. We saw this at the end of last season and in spring, but given the past few seasons for Upton, it is nice to see it carry over. Again, no one is anointing him as being back to 2007 levels, but perhaps the shoulder issues that seemingly zapped his power in 2008 and 2009 are behind him – or at least less of a nuisance.

Second, Upton is swinging the bat…a lot. Throughout his big league career, Upton has swung the bat around 43% of the time. In the early part of the season, he is swinging the stick at nearly 60% of pitches thrown. It is one thing to swing the bat at everything, but Upton’s increase in offers has come on pitches in the zone and not those of the chase variety. It takes time for all the statistics we use to stabilize; however, the percentage of swings (swing%) is the first one to do so. As it stands, Upton is about halfway to a somewhat reliable sample size. It will probably take another week of games before declaring this more of a trend than an anomaly.

In addition to the increased swings, Upton is making more contact, more contact in the zone, and striking out less. In these cases, we’ll need at least a few more weeks to gather information before forming solid analysis. The first week of the season has been one of the most frustrating, confusing, and tiring seven days in the organization’s history. Though the samples are too small to form conclusions, Friday’s rise of the great pumpkin and the hot start for B.J. Upton, could mean better days are on the horizon.

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