Atlanta acquired Justin Upton to play along side his brother, B.J., in their outfield. I think this is a great deal for the Braves. I believe that the thing holding Justin back from being as good as he can be is the fact that all the pressure had been heaped on him in Arizona.
There are some players who can handle that pressure and perform up to expectations, but also there are guys who feel that pressure and expectation and it can make them try to do more than they are capable of doing. I truly believe that Justin falls into this category. His talent is off the charts. But you have to believe that your talent is enough and trust in what you can do. I know personally from the point of an observer, that just watching his reaction to a strikeout or a missed play in the outfield that he wasn’t feeling that he had a bad at-bat or took a bad route. He was feeling that he let his whole team down. That is a lot to shoulder as a kid under 25 years old.
Going to the Braves to play next to his older brother is going let this kid’s true ability shine through. First of all, he is not going to be “the guy” in that Braves lineup. He is going to be one of the guys. The Braves had to part with Martin Prado, who I feel is one of the best “baseball players” in the game today — meaning he can put on any glove and have success. But in the the Braves also got Chris Johnson, who I feel will be the everyday third baseman and hit for more power than Prado. Now that Chipper Jones has retired, this team is now Brian McCann‘s. He is the perfect guy to take over the leadership role for the Braves. He is a steady, level-headed guy who plays the toughest position on the field.
What this means for Justin Upton is that he can put on his uniform and go play the game. From everything I have heard, he and his brother have a great relationship. I can speak from experience when it comes to playing with your brother — not at the big league level, but in high school. My older brother signed with the Brewers the year before I signed with the Padres. My only goal was to outperform my older brother, his was to make sure his little brother didn’t show him up! This deal could mean that we will finally see what the Uptons are truly capable of doing. There is nothing stronger than sibling rivalry to bring out the best in someone. I still feel the Nats are the best team in the NL East, but this deal definitely puts pressure on them to play in 2013 as well or better than they did in 2012. I am not counting out the Phillies, but their big three starting pitchers are going to have to all win 15 or more games apiece if they hope to contend.
The Hall of Fame voting is coming up on us and there are a few people that I don’t quite understand what Hall induction is supposed to be based on. I hear arguments that Jack Morris should not be voted in, and I have heard arguments that Curt Schilling should be.
Let’s clear this up. Inclusion in the Hall of Fame is in recognition of an outstanding career. It is not based on Postseason performance. If we compare Jack Morris’ numbers to Schilling’s and we remove the Postseason — where Schilling was 11-2 and Morris was 7-4 — and we get down to the career numbers, I think you will see what I’m talking about.
Won/Loss: Morris 254-186, Schilling-216-146
Career duration: Morris 18 seasons (all in the AL), Schilling 20 seasons (14 in the NL where there are only eight hitters in the lineup)
ERA: Morris 3.90, Schilling 3.35 (4.00 during six seasons in the AL)
Seasons with 15 or more wins: Morris 12, Schilling 8
Seasons with single-digit wins: Morris 4, Schilling 10
Innings Pitched: Morris 3,824, Schilling 3,261
Complete games: Morris 175, Schilling 83
Shutouts: Morris 28, Schilling 20
This all speaks to my point. The Hall of Fame is recognition of a career, not Postseason stats! Postseason stats don’t count towards MVP or the Cy Young Award. There is a reason for that. There are many great ballplayers who didn’t have the good fortune to play on teams good enough to get to the Postseason. If the people who vote on this induction only care about Postseason performance, then Greg Maddux one of the best pitchers in the history of our game, wouldn’t be a Hall of Famer! He was just 11-14 in his Postseason career!
If they come up with a Postseason Hall of Fame, Curt Schilling is a first ballot Hall of Famer! But until they do, he was a good pitcher, but his career is not Hall of Fame worthy.
One final point on the Hall of Fame: the fact that Lee Smith has not been voted in is, in my opinion, a joke! When he retired he was the all-time leader in saves with 478. (He has since been passed by Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman.) And his career ERA — which for a closer is a stat that can be very easily inflated for the season by one bad outing — was 3.03.
The telltale sign for me would be poll the players. Ask all the hitters that faced Lee, Trevor and Mo who they would have rather faced in the ninth. Trust me, Lee Arthur would be last on that list!