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Melvin Emmanuel "B. J." Upton (born August 21, 1984, in Norfolk, Virginiamarker) is a Major League Baseball center fielder for the Tampa Bay Rays. Upton is a graduate of Greenbrier Christian Academy.

His nickname, B. J., is short for "Bossman Junior" because his father was once known as Bossman. His brother, Justin Upton, plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

College and minor league career

As a member of the 2001 Team USA Junior National team, Upton batted .462 (12-for-26) in nine games. The team went 9-2 and won the Silver Medal in Cuba that year. In 2002, Upton was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America, batting .641 (50-for-78) with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs, and 32 RBIs during his senior year at Greenbrier.

Upton was drafted second overall in the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft by Tampa Bay out of Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, Virginiamarker. Widely considered a very polished prospect able to hit for both power and average, he was kept in the minor leagues until 2007. He played in the same little league as several other current players including Mark Reynolds, David Wright, and Ryan Zimmerman.

In 2003, Upton committed 56 errors, leading the minor leagues. He was ranked as the # 21 prospect in baseball that year by Baseball America, and as the # 2 prospect a year later in 2004. In both 2004 and 2005, Upton was the starting shortstop in the All-Star Futures Game.

He made his major league debut on August 2, 2004, becoming the youngest Ray ever and the youngest player in the major leagues in 2004. In that game against the Boston Red Sox, he went 1-3 with a walk, with his hit being a seventh-inning single off Tim Wakefield. His younger brother, Justin, was taken with the top overall choice of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft, making them the highest-drafted siblings of all time.

Major league career

In 2007, Upton emerged from spring training as the Rays' starting second baseman. On June 8, Upton was forced to leave a game against the Florida Marlins early due to a strained left quadricep. The injury forced him out of action until July 13. Before the injury, he was batting .320/.396/.545 with 9 home runs. Although he played mostly second base until the injury, Upton has been the team's starting center fielder since returning.

In 2007, he had 24 home runs, and was 22 out of 30 in stolen base attempts. He was one of only 6 batters in the AL to have at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, along with Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Ian Kinsler, Grady Sizemore, and Curtis Granderson.

In 2008, he was part of the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays, hitting .273 with just nine home runs and 44 stolen bases. However, he would become one of the team's post-season heroes, as he hit 7 home-runs in the three post-season series' Tampa Bay played in.

During the 2008 ALDS against the Chicago White Sox, Upton hit three home runs and drove in four runs. Against the Boston Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS he hit four home runs and drove in 11. In game 5 of the World Series, Upton stole second base and scored a crucial game tying run moments before the game was suspended due to torrential rain. It resumed two nights later and the Rays lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies, 4 games to 1.

He became the first player of the Tampa Bay Rays to hit for the cycle, doing so on October 2, 2009.

Criticism

During the 2008 season, Upton was twice disciplined by Rays manager Joe Maddon for lack of hustle. On August 6, Upton was held out of the lineup for failing to run out a ground ball the night before. On August 15, Upton was benched in the sixth inning for not running out a double play ball. He was replaced by Justin Ruggiano. A few days later, Upton hit a ball to left field that bounced off the wall. From the crack of the bat, Upton reacted to it as a home run, dropping the bat and casually jogging down the first base line. He then tried to stretch it into a double and was thrown out by the left fielder. He was not benched for this incident, however. Joe Maddon was interviewed and called it "just a mental mistake".

Career statistics

Year Age Team Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB SH SF IBB HBP GDP
2004 19 Tampa Bay AL 45 159 19 41 8 2 4 12 4 1 15 46 .258 .324 .409 .733 65 1 1 0 1 1
2006 21 Tampa Bay AL 50 175 20 43 5 0 1 10 11 3 13 40 .246 .302 .291 .593 51 0 0 0 1 1
2007 22 Tampa Bay AL 129 474 86 142 25 1 24 82 22 8 65 154 .300 .386 .508 .894 241 1 4 4 4 14
2008 23 Tampa Bay AL 145 531 85 145 37 2 9 67 44 16 97 134 .273 .383 .401 .784 213 3 7 4 2 13
Totals: 369 1,339 210 371 75 5 38 171 81 28 190 374 .277 .367 .426 .793 570 5 12 8 8 29


References

  1. http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20091002&content_id=7288010&vkey=news_tb&fext=.jsp&c_id=tb


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