Pat Mayo analyzes more offseason moves above.
Some Fantasy players may already be pessimistic that a switch from Chase Field to Turner Field could dampen Justin Upton’s chances to fully realize his great potential. But while he does leave more of a hitter’s park, the move can only boost his outlook from an intangibles perspective.
Of course, it was apparent that Upton was no longer wanted in Arizona, and the situation obviously could not have been good when a player of his youth and promise is so aggressively shopped. He could have not hoped for a better place to land than in Atlanta, where he should flourish to possibly his 2011 levels or better as long as he stays healthy. Upton still appears to have his best days ahead of him, and a happy slugger should be a productive one.
Certainly playing with his brother will help his mindset, but he now enters one of the best clubhouses in the majors in terms of camaraderie and attitude. Those in the know have often commented that the Braves have one of the most jovial and enjoyable locker room atmospheres they have seen from year to year. A change of scenery will do Upton a lot of good this year. While Chipper Jones is gone, many key players remain, and it was apparent in 2012 that Jason Heyward was a very happy camper. Some around the team were saying he was happier, looser and was fitting in better, and the resulting production was apparently much improved.
The Braves organization is smart, professional and respectful from the top down. We’ve already heard tidbits leaking out about Upton being happy to get away from Kirk Gibson in Arizona. Not all young guys will respond to Gibson’s style in a positive manner. It will be a welcome change for Upton to enter what is likely a much less pressurized environment with Atlanta.
Atlanta immediately welcomed a very young Freddie Freeman into its clubhouse mix when he came up, and he quickly became one of the guys. You saw the quick results on the field. The Braves are not just focused on pure talent, but they realize chemistry plays a big part in winning. (The Marlins should take note). Not only is the B.J. Upton/Justin Upton/Heyward outfield trio going to be dynamic on the field, they should also gravitate to each other in the locker room.
The Roto knock on Upton in the past has been year to year inconsistency and he has not quite reached his ceiling yet, as he has never driven in more than 88 runs as an example. But I believe this will be the true breakthrough season for Upton. He’ll thrive in his new home and will better his 2011 numbers from an all-around perspective. Right now, his National Fantasy Baseball Championship ADP is 23rd overall. I would not hesitate to take him as early as the mid teens with his move to Atlanta.