Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now




B.J. Upton: The Five Tool Player Who Never Was

Posted on July 24, 2011 by Marisa Ingemi

B.J. Upton has yet to live up to being the second pick in the 2002 MLB draft.

Trivia Question- Who was the #2 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2002? I was looking at the marvelous draft that was ’02, and was surprised to see it was B.J. Upton who was the pick in the second slot. This was a draft with Cole Hamels, Jon Lester and Zack Greinke.

Upton was a member of the 2001 USA Junior National Team, and in 2002 he won the Baseball America First Team All American. He hit over .600 with 11 home runs in his senior year, and in return for his terrific season he was drafted number #2 overall in the MLB Draft.

Upton has been viewed as a disappointment over the years, Hitting .273/.383/.401, .241/.313/.373 and .237/.322/.424 in his last three seasons. His numbers have declined in every year, and so have his power stats. After a 24 home run season in 2007 he hit only nine and then eleven bombs.

Bossman Junior was viewed as a five tool player when he was drafted. He could run, hit for power and average, field and throw. His problem is not his skill, but it may be his head. Upton has been pulled by his manager, Joe Maddon, several times in his four full years in the majors. Is his attitude holding him back from his full potential?

In 2003, Upton made 56 errors to lead the minor leagues, and a lack of focus has been cited as a possible problem. But his biggest problem actually came in 2008, the Rays AL Championship season. He was benched twice for lack of hustle in that season. He has also been known to admire his home runs, particularly an incident in 2008 that prevented him from reaching second base on a double because he thought it was gone.

Then in 2010, he found himself in the midst of more controversy. He and Evan Longoria got into it in a game vs the Diamondbacks after Upton did not hustle for a ball hit into the outfield. After this, there have been no more incidents with BJ, so it was thought he may have figured it out. However, he is still hitting just .229 with a .310 OBP and .318 wOBA.

I don’t think we will ever see the super star that we all hoped for all those years ago. Maybe he can build an MLB career for himself. But he will never be the five tool player we thought he was.


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