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B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla not exactly knocking anyone’s socks off this spring

Mar 8, 2014, 10:50 PM EDT

B.J. Upton Getty Images

Outfielder B.J. Upton and second baseman Dan Uggla had miserable 2013 campaigns for the Braves, finishing with a .557 and .671 OPS, respectively. Both players finished with batting averages well under the Mendoza Line with 150-plus strikeouts. It was ugly.

As the Braves flipped the calendar over to 2014, there was a sense of optimism that both players could turn it around. Their performance near the halfway mark of spring training, however, might temper that a bit. In 20 at-bats, Upton is hitting .200 with eight strikeouts. Uggla, in 17 at-bats, is hitting .235 with no extra-base hits.

It’s spring and 20 at-bats does not a large sample make, but hitting coach Greg Walker is seeing some things to work on. Via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

“He does some different things in the game than he doesn’t do in BP,” Walker said. “He knows what he’s trying to do, and in the games we’re getting about a third of them that are really good, and then about two-thirds of them he’s spinning. He seems to be getting better and better. We’re trying to get his bad-posture spin out of it.

As for Uggla, Walker said, “When he came into camp everything was great. Then he lost it for two or three days.”

The Braves owe Upton $59.8 million through 2017; they owe Uggla $13 million in each of the next two seasons. Even if Upton and Uggla can’t figure it out, the Braves should be just fine without them. After all, they did win 96 games last season.

  1. biasedhomer - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    Even though I knew the Upton brothers were overrated, I had no idea BJ would have had as bad of a season as his latest one. And it looks like he won’t be turning it around anytime soon.

  2. shawnuel - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    …..because Spring Training is SOOOOO indicative of how the season is going to turn out.

    • sportsfan18 - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:18 PM

      look up last season for both of them…

      actually the past two seasons for Uggla…

      Uggal was good, not great… and then just fell off a cliff…

    • djpostl - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:46 PM

      it does when it comes on the heels of being terrible for a year or more lol

    • jwbiii - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      When they match last season’s performances as well as they do, it might be indicative

      200/238/300 , 38%K v. 184/268/289, 34%K for B.J. Upton
      235/391/235, 30%K v. 179/309/362, 32%K for Uggla

      Both are facing MLB pitchers at least 2/3 of the time.

    • yahmule - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      The Beej saw his contact rate crater @ 57% in the second half last year. That’s lower than Adam Dunn or Mark Reynolds or even Chris Carter.

  3. tfbuckfutter - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    First….it sounds like they have both MAJORLY improved in the batting average department. So good for them.

    Second….”The Braves owe Upton $59.8 million through 2017; they owe Uggla $13 million in each of the next two seasons.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    • flatsorter - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:22 AM

      I agree, their batting averages are way up compared to last year.

    • tuberippin - Mar 9, 2014 at 4:25 AM

      Yes, I’m sure that Bossman Junior’s average will improve significantly. It would have to, considering he hit .184 last season and hasn’t hit above .250 in five seasons.

      Meanwhile, Dan Uggla will be a 34-year-old second baseman who has hit .213/323/.404 (97 OPS+) the last three years, and hit .179 last season. Hitting .200 would be a marked improvement….but even if both hit .220 it won’t make them anything better than league-average offensive talents.

  4. angrytwitterguy - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:28 PM

    Not that I think these guys are going to turn it around, but some players use spring for a variety of things. Pretty sure Joey Votto uses spring to just see pitches, K’s a lot and usually has a poor batting line by the end of it. Of course Votto can afford to do such things, he doesn’t have to worry about that fact that Schaffer is probably the better option.

    • flatsorter - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:20 AM

      Some players (actually, the majority) use spring training to try and make the team.

      • gloccamorra - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        That’s because the majority of them don’t have guaranteed contracts.

      • genericcommenter - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        Really? What’s the average number of spots really up for grabs, 2-3? OK, MAYBE a couple bench spots and a couple relief pitchers and some 5th starter battles. Most teams have their 25 and 40 man set, with perhaps room for a couple non-roster players to fill the margins.

    • flatsorter - Mar 15, 2014 at 2:44 AM

      @genericcommentator…performing well in spring training may not get a player one of the “2-3 spots up for grabs” but it may:
      1. prevent him from getting released
      2. get him called up during the season
      3. get him called up in September
      4. get him traded to a team that does want him
      5. get him picked up by a team that does want him if he gets released
      6. get him invited to next year’s spring training
      7. get him released during the season if he keeps on sucking.
      Do I need to keep going?

      I remember when Canseco was released by the Expos after batting .080 with zero HR in spring training in 2002. He said “I didn’t know I had to prove anything to make the team”. He never played in MLB again.

      Bottom line…with the exception of players like Votto, the majority of players in spring training are there to perform well and increase their stock.

  5. baberuthslegs - Mar 9, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    “Even if Upton and Uggla can’t figure it out, the Braves should be just fine without them.”

    I’m not so sure about that. With McCann and Hudson gone they are going to need all remaining “cylinders” to be firing at full peak… especially when they play the Nationals. I see 2nd place for the Braves and that’s barring injuries to key players like Kimbrel and Hayward and Freeman. Luckily there is an extra Wild Card spot now.

    • gloccamorra - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      If they win just six to eight fewer games, they’ll find themselves in the middle of a large pack competing for both wild cards. Assume Dodgers win their division and you have the Diamondbacks and Giants; Assume the Cardinal in the central and you have the Reds and Pirates, maybe the Brewers; assume the Nationals in the east and the Braves runner ups with the Alderson Mets somehow winning 90. That’s seven teams, not counting dark horses Miami and San Diego (never underestimate teams with good pitching) – two play each other, the rest watch on TV.

  6. skeleteeth - Mar 9, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    That stupid dance he does in the box before every pitch clearly does not work. Too busy trying to look like a hitter.

  7. chiadam - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    The Braves could very well be just fine without them. But what could they be if the hundred million they wasted on these potato sacks was spent on guys that could actually play?

  8. yahmule - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Done and Doner.

  9. wpjohnson - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    By obtaining these two duds, Wren has proven conclusively that he has no brain. Hopefully, he and Gonzalez will at least have backbone enough to stick these two mistakes on the bench permanently.

    Only the ultra dumb ass Teixeira trade keeps these acquisitions from looking worse.

    • jwcamp - Apr 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      What was wrong with Texiera? He batted .295 in a year and a half with the Braves. His lifetime average is only .278.

  10. stubarron - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    …and the Braves (2-8) are last in the Grapefruit League, so does that mean they’ll be last in the regular season?
    Media Spring Training evaluations are as useless as most opinions in the comment section (and, yes, I understand the the meaning of irony) :)

  11. hatenapa - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:23 AM

    They’re done. Players don’t just hit a buck-something, then come back. I can’t think of anyone who has done it, can you?

  12. lostsok - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Tommy La Stella.

  13. jkpantheryou - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    people have too much time on their hands. wake me up when it is september.

  14. bostonboresme - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    You know it’s bad when .200/.250./.275 is an improvement.

  15. jwcamp - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    “B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla not exactly knocking anyone’s socks off this spring” You act like that’s a surprise.

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