July 16, 2011

Is BJ Upton A .300 Hitter? McCarver: "Yes"; Facts: "No"

The Rays need to get more consistency out of B.J. Upton. He is not a .240 hitter. He runs too well, he makes too much contact. B.J., five years ago, had a .300 season. And I, for one, think he's a .300 hitter ... if he works two-strike counts a little better. If B.J. Upton was Dustin Pedroia with two strikes on him, he'd be a .280 hitter instead of a .240 hitter.
That was Tim McCarver, in the third inning of Saturday's Red Sox/Rays game, giving his scouting report on Upton, who began the game with a .242 average.

not a .240 hitter ... five years ago, had a .300 season

In 2007, his first full season in the majors, Upton batted .300, right on the nose. In the three subsequent seasons, he has hit .273, .241, and .237. His career average is .258. So McCarver is right, I suppose. It's more accurate to call Upton a .260 hitter. However, in my opinion, hitting exactly .300 one season, and then going into a 3½-year slump does not mean you are still a .300 hitter.

runs too well

I do not understand how speed should translate into a higher average? Maybe beating out a few infield hits, perhaps. I'm sure everyone reading this can immediately name at least a dozen players who are/were not "fleet of foot", but still get/got tons of hits.

makes too much contact

In 2011, Upton is 64th out of 78 qualifying AL hitters in Contact Percentage (76%).
2011 - 64th out of 78
2010 - 68th out of 70
2009 - 65th out of 75
2008 - 47th out of 67
2007 - 79th out of 82
Over his career, Upton has struck out in 24.8% of his plate appearances. His 24.9% K rate this season leads the Rays and is the 7th-highest percentage in the AL and #11 in MLB. Among AL batters, Upton was tied for 2nd last year, 6th in 2009, 11th in 2008, and 2nd in 2007. ... "Too much" contact? The dude is actually one of the worst contact hitters in the AL. Sorry, Tim.

I, for one, think he's a .300 hitter

You may be the only "one", Tim. In 31 months in the major leagues, Upton has hit over .300 in only four of them: April and July 2007, May 2008, and June 2009. That's it. He's hitting very well this month, though, so July 2011 could be the 5th month out of 32. ... Since August 11, 2007 -- encompassing 77% of his career at-bats -- Upton has batted .249 (525-for-2110).

if he works two-strike counts a little better

In two-strike counts (0-2, 1-2, 3-2), Upton is hitting .168 over his career. Here are his season averages since 2007, with two strikes, compared to the entire AL.
      UPTON     AL
2007   .186   .198
2008   .203   .196
2009   .198   .190
2010   .121   .184
2011   .130   .183
Upton was near or above league average until the past two seasons, when he has dipped sharply, so McCarver has a point here.

If B.J. Upton was Dustin Pedroia with two strikes on him, he'd be a .280 hitter instead of a .240 hitter

Pedroia is a .258 career hitter with two strikes, 90 points higher than Upton's .168 average.
2007   .186   .263
2008   .203   .298
2009   .198   .243
2010   .121   .240
2011   .130   .262
McCarver is correct. If Upton hit with two strikes like someone who hits really well with two strikes, he'd have a higher batting average. ... But, seriously, kudos to McCarver for citing someone who hits well above average with two strikes. (I fully expected (a) Upton to be decent w/2 strikes and (b) for Upton and Pedroia's stats to be about the same.)

More WTF-ness from McCarver:

After Jacoby Ellsbury beat out an infield hit in the first inning: "With a ball hit like that, Ellsbury is running on contact."

Aren't most batters, when they hit the ball -- assuming they are not admiring a 500-foot moon shot -- running on contact?

As Adrian Gonzalez batted in the first: "He has been a hitting monster playing in the same park as the Green Monster."

I wish I had begun a list of these types of McCarverisms years ago. Maybe I have some scrawled on old post-season scorecards.

Noting that two of Boston's first three runs got on base on walks: "You look at multi-run innings, Dick, and you'll find walks in there. Almost all of them. There will be a walk peppered in there. And from a mental standpoint, if a pitcher is walking a hitter, or walking more than one, then the guys behind him get better pitches to hit because he doesn't want to throw the ball out of the strike zone."

McCarver loves to exaggerate the importance of walks (especially leadoff walks). While stating that "almost all" multi-run innings will include at least one a walk, McCarver offers absolutely no evidence, and overlooks the fact that the Rays had scored three runs only two innings earlier without drawing a walk.

Bonus: Dick Stockton referred to Josh Reddick as "Ellsbury" twice during Reddick's second-inning at-bat.


johngoldfine said...

There you go again, Allan, letting mere facts and statistics and research interfere with your appreciation of Tim's deep and knowledgeable color commentary....

You know, if you were pulling in all the basement-geek stats to beat up on McCarver--but, no, you skewer him with statistics even the most casual fan recognizes and understands.

I bet McCarver came up with the monster...monster thing and practiced it in front of the mirror. What a wit, what a way with words!

lester falls said...

Excellent post. There really ought to be more done w/r/t the inanity that comes out of McCarver's mouth. 'If B.J. could only hit with 2 strikes like Pedroia does' is about the most meaningless tautology someone can make about an athlete. What McCarver is saying is that if B.J. could hit .300, he would hit .300.

There was another point last night when the guys punned 'catch' - something about there being a catch to the catch. Then they proceeded to laugh at their incredible humor for the next batter. I found myself, and this is difficult to admit, longing for the shameless plugs and platitudes of Remy.

allan said...

During one of Drew's AB, Stockton said that he had just found out that JD's name is actually David Jonathan - or DJ. OMG - IT'S BACKWARDS!!!

McCarver claimed he also never knew this. Stockton finished up by saying something like, "A Drew by any other name ..."

There was maybe 7 or 8 seconds of silence before McCarver said, "A Drew by any other name ...", but he said it as though he had just thought it up.

(P.S.: B.J. Upton's first name is Melvin!)

(P.P.S. McCarver's first name is James!!!!!)

allan said...

McCarver quotes - sadly, the site has not been updated in many years.

"They need a derrick to get Jeter out." (May 21, 2005 Subway Series matchup at Shea Stadium)

laura k said...

I wish I had begun a list of these types of McCarverisms years ago. Maybe I have some scrawled on old post-season scorecards.


Patrick said...

I'm sure McCarver's reference to Pedroia hitting well with two strike is more of a case of a broken clock being right twice a day, than of actual knowledge.

Jim said...

I commend your fortitude in not muting McCarver. I did, and tuned into EEI for commentary, figuring that I'd just ignore Obie-hype, and what it being the middle of July and all, was probably somewhat safe from a college football assault. Good so far.
Alas, to my horror, for one full 1/2 inning Joe Castig went on about McCarver's singing, his new CD ("classic American favourites"), how Stockton played the piano (they had entertained Joe before the game), how McCarver sang "pretty good", on and on. The topic had absolutely no connection with what was happening on the field. On the radio, no less. There is no justice.

allan said...

I commend your fortitude in not muting McCarver.

I cheated. I heard the Ellsbury and Gonzalez remarks, since they were the first and third batters of the game. The other stuff was referenced in the SoSH thread, which I was also following. I noted when the remark/cost was made and then went back and listened to those spots in the archived broadcast.

There is the clickable linescore, where you can go to the beginning of any half-inning, but I found out yesterday that you can also click on whatever batter is on the scrolling bar and go right to his at-bat! (Also, in Gameday, you can go back in previous innings and click on the play-by-play for an at-bat (not pitch-by-pitch, though, I don't think) and it will replay the at-bat with the pitches coming in GDGD-style. I discovered that last week. I can't wait to discover what other cool stuff you can do; that'll be in another 3 years!)

Anonymous said...

Heard Tim McCarver yesterday say: "The thing about James Shields is: he's not a hard thrower..."

He hit 93mph on the next pitch.

Thank you, Tim. You live up to your billing as the worst-in-show every week. Well done.

He also referred to Sam Fuld as a "national treasure" - I suppose diving a lot gets you that label.