B.J. Upton's struggles continue

How long will Fredi Gonzalez keep B.J. Upton at the top of the lineup?

B.J. Upton isn't getting any better. He's hitting .202 for the season and .171 for the month of June. Upton is approaching his 200th game for the Braves, yet his batting average in an Atlanta uniform is .192.

There have been several players in Atlanta's history that have, for lack of a better term, "wet the bed." Count outfielder Nate McLouth in that category. He hit .256 in his six years for Pittsburgh, but in his first full year for the Braves McLouth hit only .190.

And we all know about Dan Uggla. He was a .263 hitter in his five seasons with the Marlins, but his average as a Brave has been .210.

There is another study that is interesting regarding players that have done well elsewhere but struggled when they hit Atlanta. Reggie Sanders was acquired from the Padres in a big six-player trade in December, 1999.

Sanders had hit .285 in his one year with the Padres, with 26 home runs, 72 RBI and a .376 on base percentage. In his first nine seasons in the big leagues, Sanders had hit .273.

But when he hit the city of Atlanta, the wheels came off for Sanders. His batting average fell under .200 on April 16 and would stay south of the Mendoza Line until September 9. The average got as low as .130 in late April and .146 in late May. A batting average of .345 in the month of September got his season average up to .232, but it was a struggle all year for the veteran outfielder.

Upton can only dream of such a month. Here are his month-to-month batting averages since joining the Braves prior to the start of the 2013 season:

April, 2013: .143
May, 2013: .147
June, 2013: .238
July, 2013: .176
August, 2013: .269
September, 2013: .106
April, 2014: .213
May, 2014: .219
June, 2014: .171

That is awful. Upton is in the way. What more do the Braves need to know to justify moving him out of the two hole in the lineup? The manager is making a grave mistake by being stubborn and keeping Upton that high in the lineup.

Upton hit .255 in his eight years in Tampa Bay. He's hit .192 in his season and a half in Atlanta. How can someone lost 63 points on his batting average? Is it changing leagues? Was he over-achieving in Tampa Bay? Has he just lost his skills?

The Braves need to figure it out and quickly. They are next-to-last in runs scored in baseball, and a lot of that can be blamed on Upton. He's just not any good, and if the Braves don't watch it, they won't be very good either.


Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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