B.J. Upton Now Known As ‘Melvin Upton, Jr.’

B.J. Upton Now Known As 'Melvin Upton, Jr.'

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  • Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton has changed his name to “Melvin Upton, Jr.”

Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton is now known as Melvin Upton, Jr.

Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton is now known as Melvin Upton, Jr. 

Mark Bowman of the Braves’ official website confirmed Upton’s name change on Feb. 22. Bowman says it’s Upton’s way of appeasing disgruntled fans who “don’t want to see B.J.” as a member of the Braves. He has largely underperformed in his two seasons with the Braves, but he hopes to turn things around in 2015.

Upton’s union representatives confirmed his name change to Bowman. His former nickname, B.J., was derived from his father Manny’s nickname plus the younger Upton’s own suffix: “Bossman Jr.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s David O’Brien says it will be the first time Upton will ever use the suffix “Jr.” as a professional baseball player. Braves president of baseball operations John Hart put Upton’s new name to good use when he spoke with O’Brien’s colleague, Jeff Schultz, about new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. Hart said,”He’s had some really good work with Melvin. Some really good sessions with Melvin.”

According to Bowman, Upton will explain why he changed his name once training camp starts this week. Position players are required to report for camp on Feb. 25 with the first workout to commence the day after.

Many exasperated fans have expressed optimism Upton will eventually turn things around. While a good number have given up on him, Bowman stresses the Braves won’t find it easy to release a player who is due $43.65 million over the next three years. 

Atlanta tried desperately to trade Upton this past offseason, but wasn’t successful. He has batted .198 and has hit 21 home runs since he signed a lucrative five-year, $75.5 million contract in 2013, per Bowman. Upton’s .593 OPS is the lowest among MLB players who have recorded at least 1,000 plate appearances.

Upton’s numbers with the Braves are nowhere near those he posted in more than six seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, per O’Brien. During that span, he hit .255 with a .336 OBP, 118 homers and 232 stolen bases. As a member of the Rays, Upton recorded three seasons with at least 23 home runs and five straight seasons with more than 30 stolen bases.

However, there could be hope.

ESPN cites the example of Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who was previously known as Mike Stanton until his name change in 2012. Prior to the change, he had batted a combined .261 during the 2010 and 2011 MLB seasons.

Since then, Stanton has upped his batting average to .277. He also boasts of a .549 slugging percentage, an improvement of 0.24 over the past two seasons, per ESPN.  

O’Brien also notes this will be the first year the former B.J. Upton won’t be playing with his brother, Justin Upton, with the Braves. The two signed with Atlanta in 2013. However, the Braves traded Justin, the younger Upton brother, to the San Diego Padres this past offseason. 

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