Chopcast: Braves complete home stand; Justin Upton extends hot streak
MAY 28, 2014 5:03p ET
On the strength of his exceptional offensive production at Turner Field, Braves outfielder Justin Upton has placed himself firmly in the early, early National League MVP conversation. On the surface, that sounds a little bit ridiculous for a guy hitting just .195 with three home runs on the road this season.
But then there are those home splits, and everything else gets thrown out the window. Upton will remain in the conversation as long as he keeps producing at this rate within friendly confines.
When looking at all qualified MLB hitters, only Colorado Rockies superstar Troy Tulowitzki, the NL MVP frontrunner who is blessed with the added advantage of playing 81 games in hitter-friendly Coors Field, does better at home. Upton is hitting .400/.483/.790 at Turner Field this season -- numbers pushed upward by him reaching base in each of his four plate appearances on Tuesday night against the Red Sox. Ten of his 13 home runs have come at home. Of course, nobody comes close to Tulowitzki's home splits right now (.600 on-base percentage with eight home runs is just mean-spirited), but here's how Upton stacks up with the very best home hitters in baseball right now, in terms of weighted runs created:
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 294
Justin Upton, Braves: 251
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers: 200
This is not exactly new territory for Upton. He absolutely tore up Chase Field during his time with the Diamondbacks. Since his first full season in the majors (400-plus plate appearances), only six other players have created more runs for their respective offenses at home: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Joey Votto and Ian Kinsler.
Again, some list.
Overall, Upton is hitting .311/.392/.605 with the sixth-best WAR in all of baseball.
The key for Upton, if he is going to continue to push the likes of Tulo, Puig, Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins), Carlos Gomez (Brewers) for top honors in the NL, will be to continue putting up strong numbers at home while improving his road splits.
He doesn't need to put up superhuman numbers in every venue -- although Puig does rank top-five in weighted runs created for both home and road games -- but if he can find a middle ground there then not only will he be an All-Star and MVP candidate, but he'll give the middle of the Braves lineup one of the best bats in baseball, something they could certainly use during their playoff chase. Our writers discuss Upton and more in the latest episode of the Chopcast: