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Thursday, January 24, 2013
Upton power numbers in elite company

By ESPN Stats & Information


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesUpton has a career .293 average at Turner Field, his 2nd highest at any park minimum 10 games.
The Atlanta Braves added a key piece to their outfield Thursday by acquiring Justin Upton as part of a seven-player trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The move unites Upton with brother B.J. Upton, and Elias says the two could become only the fourth pair of brothers to play at least 100 games each in the outfield for the same team in the same season. The most recent? Tony and Billy Conigliaro for the Boston Red Sox in 1970.

A career .293 batter at Turner Field, Upton certainly brings power. Since his first full season in 2008, Upton has an .842 OPS. That ranks seventh among NL outfielders with at least 500 games played over that stretch (Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier).

2012 Struggles

Upton had a down season in 2012 compared to his 2011 campaign, however. While his averages were often similar, his power was down, as he battled a thumb injury for much of the year. His average only took a slight dip from .289 to .280, but his OPS dove from .898 to just .785.

While he batted .300 against the fastball, he had an average of just .245 against offspeed stuff. The MLB average last season was .242 among qualified players, so there is certainly room for improvement.

Power Upgrade

Nevertheless, the pairing of Justin with his brother in Atlanta will certainly be something to watch. The brothers provide a power upgrade over the men they replace in the Atlanta outfield, Martin Prado and Michael Bourn. The Uptons smashed 45 homers last season, while Prado and Bourn combined for 19. What they do not provide, however, is a better batting average. Prado and Bourn combined for a .288 average in 2012, compared to just .263 by the Uptons.

What's more, Upton has 48 homers over the past two seasons, and what makes an Upton homer special is the distance it travels. In that two-year span, the average Upton homer has traveled 420 feet. That average distance leads the majors (among those who have at least 15 homers).

For Arizona, Prado ranked 10th in the NL in WAR last season (5.4), providing more than twice Upton's value (2.1). Prado has also accumulated 12.1 wins above replacement since 2010. In that span, Upton has 9.2 wins above replacement.