Major league pitchers are sneaky. They adjust to what works best for them, and that includes how to approach the better hitters in each lineup. Advance scouting and data also help.
We may be seeing this in action against Justin Upton. The Atlanta Braves outfielder saw a noticeable change in pitch selection this season, and it may signal a trend for his future success.
The Atlanta Braves have an outfielder known as a chronic swing tinkerer. He's made several changes over the past few years, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
B.J. Upton has already made a couple tweaks as a Brave and made plenty more major changes in Tampa Bay. Rays fans see the tweaks he's constantly making in Atlanta and likely nod in an unsurprising way.
But the player to Upton's left is making a case to become the new king of tweaks, and it might explain the direction his bat is heading as he enters his prime.
Final stats for area professional players. The stat line combines numbers from all levels:
Tyler Colvin, North Augusta, OF, San Francisco, AAA: 50 games, .227/.278/.344, 21 R, 37 H, 9 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 11 BB, 43 K, 1 SB
Josh Whitaker, Augusta Christian, OF, Oakland, AAA-AA: 73 games, .295/.342/.488, 35 R, 83 H, 16 2B, 3B, 12 HR, 54 RBI, 20 BB, 64 K, 4 SB
Shannon Wilkerson, Augusta State, OF, Boston, AAA-AA: 130 games, .260/.309/.345, 59 R, 120 H, 25 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 49 RBI, 33 BB, 90 K, 12 SB
Part 1 of two-part series on the state of the Atlanta Braves and the writer's opinion on what should be done to improve the team.
No one can argue the Braves have fallen off a cliff the past few weeks. It’s a matter of a thin lineup being exposed to the fullest extent, combined with fatigue and the effort a group of humans can realistically be expected to show while losing game after game.
ATLANTA - The Braves announced their organizational awards for the minor leagues Saturday, led by a player of the year that came as no surprise.
Infielder Jose Peraza was named the Braves minor league player of the year for making major strides at the plate and showing the ability to adapt to different defensive assignments.
19 years old
Drafted 1st round, Florida high school, 2013
2014 A: 125 PA, .203/.226/.271, .228 wOBA, 35 wRC+, .068 ISO, 3.2 BB%, 1 HR, 1 SB
A-: 267 PA, .333/.378/.469, .389 wOBA, 135 wRC+, .136 ISO, 6.7 BB%, 5 HR, 6 SB
OFP: 50; major league regular
Realistic: 40; utility role
Risk: High; lacks full-season success
Hit: 20 present; 55 future
20 years old
Drafted 2nd round, North Carolina high school, 2013
2014 A: 399 PA, .220/.272/.339, .283 wOBA, 71 wRC+, .119 ISO, 4.5 BB%, 7 HR, 6 SB
A-: 117 PA, .243/.293/.393, .317 wOBA, 90 wRC+, .150 ISO, 6 BB%, 3 HR, 1 SB
OFP: 55; above-average regular
Realistic: 50; major league regular
Risk: High; initial low-level struggles
Hit: 20 present; 55 future
Drafted 7th round, University of Pittsburgh, 2011
2014 A: 31.1 IP, 3.73 ERA, 1.45 FIP, 50.8 K%, 11.1 BB%, .333 BABIP
A+: 4 IP, H, R, ER, 2 BB, 7 K
OFP: 50; closer
Realistic: 45; set-up
Risk: High; extensive injury history
Fastball: 75 present; 80 future; 94-102, t103
B.J. Upton changed things again.
Upton has proven himself to be a tinkerer at the plate. At the beginning of 2012, he was fluid but with huge head-to-toe movement toward the ball. By the end of 2012, he was rigid with little momentum to the ball and had developed the dreadful extended trigger.
His swing was the same at the beginning of 2013, which should have been a warning of bad things to come. He had basically killed momentum to the ball and slowed his swing for the purpose of shortening his actions. The result was a .184 average.