I am sure he will continue to develop, and that may be a good reason to be high on him.
Babip and average can fluctuate wildly in the minors and are a lot less reliable because the defense just isn't as good. Cameron maybin is a great example of this. He has a horrible linedrive rate(9%!!!) and a huge groundball percent(60%), which means hes basically slamming the ball into the ground every at bat.(with similar k'rates to upton), yet maintains a decent average because hes pretty fast and the defense is not up to par.
But gb%, ld%, fb%, combined with k% are very good indicators of someones batting average(in the majors), or do you think bj upton is so good that he can do things with the ball that noone else in the league can?
Here is it explained pretty succinctly from espn: Its about a week old so a few numbers are a little off, but basically the same.
What he was expected to do
For three years, Tampa Bay fans impatiently waited for this top prospect to make it to the majors. There was no question he could hit: a .296 batting average in 1,800 minor league at-bats, with pop potential and speed to burn (in 2005-06, he stole 90 bases).
However, he was a defensive liability, and so his major league opportunities were sparse. In 2004, he managed 159 at-bats with a meager .258 average, four home runs and four steals. In 2006, he posted 175 at-bats, but did not fare much better -- .246 with a homer and 11 steals. In those two short stints, he struggled mightily against right-handed pitchers, batting just .197.
So, coming into 2007, expectations were tempered. At BaseballHQ.com, we projected a moderate growth year: 7 homers, 30 steals and a .262 average in 420 at-bats.
What he has done
Upton has surpassed all expectations. Through Sunday, he was batting .339 with 12 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 236 at-bats. BaseballHQ.com full-season projections now have him finishing with 17 HRs, 26 SBs and a .313 average, though his pace suggests those levels might be conservative.
In his entire minor league career, Upton never hit more than 18 home runs in a season. He batted over .300 four times, but in full-season play never more than .315.
Looking at his component skills, Upton is posting a 12-percent walk rate, which is right in line with his career totals. But that's where all similarities end.
Upton's contact rate (CT) is currently 67 percent. Over the past three years, he has averaged a 79-percent rate. That is a huge difference. His historical level correlates with about a .270 batting average; his current rate is at a level that suggests a .250 hitter.
In fact, here are the other players this year who are posting a contact rate of about 67 percent:
Player CT BA
David Ross .66 .190
Josh Fields .66 .245
Todd Linden .67 .225
Joe Borchard .67 .199
CT is contact rate. Statistics as of July 23.
Nobody even close to .300. It's tough to have a good batting average when you make so little contact. So what is Upton's secret?
Maybe he is just hitting the ball hard? We might see this reflected in a high line drive rate. But Upton's rate is just 20 percent, which is about 2-percent below the league average.
The real reason for his success is his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Currently, his BABIP is about .470. That is a remarkable level. Essentially, nearly half of his fair-batted balls are dropping for hits.
But research has shown that, for hitters, BABIP regresses to their own personal benchmark level, particularly over the past three years. Upton's BABIP over the past three years was .330.
If that variance alone wasn't reason enough to expect a regression, here are all the players from the past five years who maintained a BABIP of even .400 for an entire season. Also listed is their batting average the following year:
Player Year BABIP BA Next Year BA
Wily Mo Pena 2006 .411 .301 .202
Jose Hernandez 2002 .406 .288 .225
Ichiro Suzuki 2004 .401 .372 .303
Todd Pratt 2002 .400 .311 .272
BABIP is batting average on balls in play. 2007 statistics as of July 23.
That's it. Just four players in five years, and nobody even close to Upton's .470. None of this quartet were able to follow up their feat the following year. Upton's current BABIP is so far off the board that it is beyond what we could even consider an outlier.
What this all means is that a crash is coming.
If you are a B.J. Upton owner, it is going to be tough to convince yourself that he should be shopped. But his value is going to be no higher than it is right now, and if your team is in need of some commodity that he does not provide, now is the time to maximize your return.
Don't get me wrong, I like Upton, but I also think his numbers are grossly inflated, and still represent a relatively small sample space.(260ish abs) When his luck comes back to earth, his numbers are going to dip drastically.
Check out my blog at http://www.rotopulse.com for fantasy baseball analysis, injury reports, commissioner info and more.