Melvin Upton Jr., or B.J. Upton as you may better know him as, officially changed his name recently. He says it was not because he is looking for a fresh start in 2015, but it couldn’t hurt. In his two years as an Atlanta Brave, Upton has hit .184 and .208 with just 21 home runs 61 RBI. After signing a 5-year, $72 million contract, those statistics do not correlate to his paycheck.
It is not new news that Upton has had a rough start in his time in Atlanta. While 2014 was a little better than 2013, that isn’t saying much. Compared to his breakout years in Tampa Bay, Melvin Upton has underperformed and has been criticized heavily for it. Analysts have been quick to say he has one of the worst contracts and is one of the biggest busts in baseball. Some think he will never regain his old form. Upton thinks differently.
Atlanta’s new hitting coach, Kevin Seitzer, was working with Upton on his swing early in the off-season. We will see shortly if he was able to work out some of the kinks in Upton’s swing.
The name Melvin Upton Jr. is the birth name given to Upton. He went by B.J., which stands for Bossman Junior, because his father’s nickname was Bossman. Hence, Melvin was the younger Bossman – or at least he used to be. There has been little reason the last few seasons to call Upton Bossman Junior and thus B.J. Despite Upton claiming that the name change has nothing to do with his recent play, it seems like an alteration that may not be a bad thing.
Upton was expected to be part of the Braves’ revamped outfield a few years ago when they signed B.J. Upton and traded for his brother Justin to play alongside Jason Heyward. Two years later, Justin Upton was traded to San Diego and Heyward was traded to St. Louis. The least productive outfielder is the one that remains because no team is willing to take on the contract of a player struggling to hit above the Mendoza Line.
It may be a new name for Melvin Upton, but it is also a new Atlanta team. While Upton was brought in to be a new star, he now needs to be at least an average player. He has nowhere to go but up, unless his tenure ends in the same fashion as former teammate Dan Uggla a year ago.
Melvin Upton Jr. looking to rebound
The Braves are in the same boat with Upton as the New York Yankees are with Alex Rodriguez. Both teams have a player with a mega contract over multiple years and production problems. The good news for Atlanta is that Upton is still just 30 years old and has the ability to turn things around. Rodriguez will have his work cut out for him just finding his name in the lineup.
There are few people who still believe in B.J. Upton, and now they won’t have to worry about him. They will either get to see the same unproductive player with a new name, or a new and improved center fielder by the name of Melvin Upton Jr. Hopefully it is the latter.