Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Josh Hamilton and B.J. Upton had a lot in common last season.
Both signed five-year contracts in free agency -- Hamilton with the Los Angeles Angels and Upton with the Atlanta Braves -- and subsequently failed to live up to them.
Fantasy owners were also crushed by both players, as Hamilton declined from 43 home runs, 128 RBI and .285/.354/.577 splits in 2012 to 21 homers, 79 RBI and .250/.307/.432 splits last season and Upton hit .184 with nine homers and 12 steals in 446 plate appearances.
In early yahoo.com drafts, Hamilton's average draft position (ADP) is 88.8, 28th among outfielders, so he's still being counted on as a starting outfielder in 10-team leagues.
Upton doesn't have an ADP because nobody is picking him. Coming in 16 points shy of the Mendoza Line will do that to your draft stock.
That's probably the route owners should be taking with the Braves center fielder.
After stinking up Turner Field for the first four months of the season, Atlanta only gave Upton 128 plate appearances the last two months, so he came up about 60 PAs shy to qualify for the batting title. Otherwise, his average would have ranked second to last in baseball to teammate Dan Uggla.
Upton's infield flyball rate was 19.3 percent, highest in the big leagues, his 66.9 percent overall contact rate tied Uggla for third worst. He also made contact when swinging at pitches in the strike zone just 71.8 percent of the time, which represented another last place finish for the Braves outfielder.
So yes, making Upton prove his fantasy usefulness from the free agent wire is the right move. He'll need to make some major adjustments at the plate to get back to the player he was in 2012.
As for Hamilton, at little weight gain may be all he needs to reestablish his value.
The Angels right fielder experienced a steep decline in power last season that wasn't solely a product of moving from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Hamilton's HR/FB was 11.5 percent at home, but he also hit a homer on just 13.6 percent of his flies on the road. He had HR/FB splits of 23.9 percent at home and 27.6 percent away in 2012. The outfielder's average batted-ball distance dropped from 299.81 feet in 2012 to 273.49 in 2013.
If you're looking for the No. 1 reason why Hamilton's average dropped 35 points in one year, that's it. More of his flyballs were ending up in gloves than the seats.
Hamilton blamed the power outage on an offseason diet that led to a 20-pound loss in weight. According to mlb.com, Hamilton has bulked up to 235 pounds by taking on a new heavy-lifting program.
Normally, I'd be skeptical that this will make a difference, but with Hamilton I'm buying into the bulk.
Because while the outfielder's power wasn't as immense, he actually had a better strikeout rate, contact rate and line-drive rate in 2013 than 2012.
Hamilton also hit .329 with a .909 OPS over his final 45 games to bring his rate stats back to respectability.
The only thing that was missing in that span was the power, as he launched just five round-trippers.
The newly muscle-bound Hamilton shouldn't have that issue in 2014.
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