Fantasy fallout of the Justin Upton trade
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For the first time since he was a freshman in high school, 25-year-old outfielder Justin Upton will play on the same team as his brother B.J. after being dealt to the Atlanta Braves as part of a seven- player trade on Thursday.

But I don't expect the pairing to yield prolific fantasy results for the younger Upton.

While the Upton brothers will be part of an outfield trio with Jason Heyward that could hit a combined 75 homers and steal 75 bases, expectations will be through the roof for Justin Upton on draft day and that could make him a risky pick.

Even if you attribute Justin Upton's 2012 disappointment to a thumb injury that bothered him for most of the year or to a sour relationship with manager Kirk Gibson, that doesn't change the fact that Upton has been much better of a hitter at Chase Field.

In 364 home games, Upton has a .937 OPS, compared to .731 in 367 road games. He has clubbed 26 more home runs and driven in 75 more runs while batting 57 points higher at Chase Field.

The split was just as wide last season, when Upton hit .280 with 17 homers and a .785 OPS. Eleven of those longballs came at home, where Upton hit .313/.390/.534 compared to .252/.326/.344 on the road.

So while he might be joining a comfort zone with his brother in Atlanta, he'll be leaving another in the batter's box in Phoenix.

Even if Upton makes natural improvements to his game in his sixth full MLB season like I think he will, the home park factor might come into play and prevent him from having a career year.

It's certainly possible that Justin Upton's 2013 season will mirror 2009, when he hit .300 with 26 homers, 86 RBIs and 20 steals, but it would be foolish to expect him to suddenly become a 35/25 player just because he is now playing with his brother.

That means drafting him in the first or second round in 2013 fantasy drafts is out of the question.

Let's take a look at how this trade affects some of the other players involved.

Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves - Heyward was going to see his ADP rise this season even if this trade wasn't made since he was a 25/20 player last season with 27 homers and 21 steals while spending the majority of the year batting third in front of Chipper Jones.

Jones retired, so Heyward could move to the cleanup spot in the order with Justin Upton hitting immediately in front of him.

However, fantasy owners shouldn't expect Heyward to have many more RBI opportunities this season. Justin Upton figures to have a similar OBP to the .359 Martin Prado (going to Arizona in the trade for Upton) put up last season hitting primarily in the two-hole. And B.J. Upton, who gets on base less than Michael Bourn, could assume Bourn's leadoff spot or the second spot in the batting order.

B.J. Upton, OF, Atlanta Braves - The elder Upton could actually benefit more from the trade than his younger brother. What better a way to motivate a talented athlete than by putting his more-acclaimed little brother on the same team?

At best, Upton will hit .250, but fantasy owners shouldn't overlook his power- speed combo early in drafts. Upton has belted 69 homers with 221 RBIs and 109 steals over the last three seasons. He has also played at least 144 games in each of the past five years. And while he has never scored 100 runs, he could challenge that mark with his brother, Heyward and Freddie Freeman hitting behind him.

Martin Prado, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks - Prado has never hit more than 15 homers in a season and he only had 10 last year but that could change at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks home park ranked sixth in home run factor last season while Turner Field was 22nd. Prado has had pretty even home-road splits in his career so the best-case scenario is that he takes advantage of a better home park and hits .315 with 15-16 homers and 15-20 steals.

Jason Kubel, OF Arizona Diamondbacks - According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, D'Backs GM Kevin Towers said the team will now keep Jason Kubel. That's great news for his fantasy prospects. Kubel hit a career-high 30 homers in 2012, with 18 of them coming at home. He had a .910 OPS at Chase Field compared to .757 on the road.

Randall Delgado, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks - Delgado went 4-9 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 18 appearances (17 starts) last year, but the young right- hander had a 3.76 ERA at Turner Field. He'll have to throw pitches at the Chase Field launching pad from now on.

Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves - The Braves were able to hold onto top pitching prospect Julio Teheran, who went 7-9 with an ugly 5.08 ERA at Triple-A Gwinnett last season. Staying with an organization that has produced many frontline starters is a win for the young righty. He figures to have a spot in the Braves starting five to begin the season while Brandon Beachy recovers from Tommy John surgery.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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