A trio of players were Razzball comment section regulars last year due in large part to their phallic-referencing, chuckle-inducing monikers. Coincidentally, all three have outlooks that are pointing up for the 2014 season.
Let’s start with B.J. Upton. This one’s easy, since it will be virtually impossible for him to not top .184/9/26/12 and an OPS of .557. The guy snagged 30-plus bases five seasons in a row and has flashed 30-30 potential. Bro Justin Upton is in the same outfield, so clearly the talent’s innate and all he has to do is cut down on the whiffs and tap into it, right? Right?
At 29, Upton is in the prime time of his life. He’s batting .297 this spring with four steals. There’s a chance that, slotted down in the Braves lineup where there’s less pressure, he comes into his own. There’s also a chance that he reverts to what he was doing: .240 average, 20-some dongs, 30-some steals, 70-some RBIs. Wait, that’s not that bad! There’s no way B.J.’s gonna suck as bad in 2014 as he did in 2013.
Now let’s move on to R.A. Dickey. What Robert Allen delivers season to season, and even game-to-game, and even pitch-to-pitch, is the equivalent of the outcome of a Magic 8 Ball. Coming off a Cy Young year in 2012, Dickey joined the much-hyped Jays – you remember Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson leading the parade of the free agent-busts-to-be – and unfurled a Bert Blyleven-esque roller coaster of a season in which he went 14-13 with a 4.21 ERA. But his innings-to-hits ratio (224-207) wasn’t that bad, his WHIP wasn’t embarrassing (1.23) and he punched out 177 for the season. And after a putrid first half, Dickey rebounded in the second, going 6-3 with a 3.56 ERA.
Seems like a lot of fantasy drafters are scooping Dickey up in the middle-rounds of 16-team leagues and larger, and I’m on board with that. His 2014 is going to land somewhere between last year and his 20-win 2012, but you just can’t tell where. Sorry ladies, the knuckleball has a mind of its own.
That brings us to Dickey’s former teammate, Josh Johnson, now of the San Diego Padres. There’s a lot of knee-jerk reactions going on with both Johnson and fellow Padre comeback candidate Ian Kennedy – these guys were once great, these guys are in Petco, therefore these guys will have bounce back 2014 seasons.
It’s not that simple. For one, they moved the fences in at Petco, because God forbid there’s a park that prevents hitters from putting up Ruthian numbers. For two, Johnson is coming off season-ending elbow surgery and hasn’t been phenomenal in spring (although he did go 4 innings, giving up just one run and striking out three, in his most recent Grapefruit start).
But for the purpose of being an official bounce back candidate, Johnson is a lot like B.J. – how can you not improve on horrid (2-8, 6.20 ERA)?
So when draft day arrives and you find yourself in the middle rounds, go ahead and grab a Dickey, request a B.J. or bolster your rotation by sticking Johnson in there.