Second Half Trade Targets: Outfielders: Jutin Upton, J.D. Martinez & Alex Gordon

Yesterday we took a look at some potential second half pitching trade targets (click here to view).  Today, let’s turn our attention to the outfield and look at a few names that are worth acquiring:

Justin Upton – Arizona Diamondbacks
The trade rumors have started and, whether they come to fruition or not (which is fairly doubtful), you would expect significantly better days to be in his future. He has clearly disappointed this season, with just 7 HR and 10 SB. He also has found himself in the doghouse with the Arizona fans. However, do we really want to write off the 30/20 potential he flashed in 2011?

Granted, he has posted an inflated BABIP (.340), but he is also sporting a career best 21.7% line drive rate which gives credence to the number. Throw in that he has been over .350 twice in his career and his average is not a worry (in fact, with more power you would expect the average to rise).

There has been an increase in groundballs (45.6%) and a decrease in his HR/FB (9.9%), which do help to explain the lack of power. At the same time Upton hit 16 of his home runs in just 244AB after the All-Star Break a year ago, so there is still plenty of hope.

With that in mind and the ability to produce in all five categories, it’s hard not to try and acquire him in all formats.

J.D. Martinez – Houston Astros
He was supposed to be a source of average this season, yet he’s hitting just .240 and has been jerked all over the lineup. With Carlos Lee in Miami that should stop, as the Astros need Martinez’ potential in the middle of their order.

A lot of his troubles are thanks to a putrid 14.9% line drive rate (he was at 27.6% in his 2011 callup). I want to say his improved play in July(he is hitting .281) is proof that he is coming around, but the numbers actually tell a different story. This far he has actually posted a pathetic 10.7% line drive rate and an astonishing 60.7% ground ball rate. In other words, his .296 BABIP is fairly unstable.

So why would I suggest acquiring him? Sometimes you have to look beyond the numbers in this particular season. The fact is, he is better than this. He showed it in 2011 and he showed it throughout his minor league career (.342 average in over 1,100 AB). Granted, he never played above Double-A, but you still have to hit the ball.

It’s possible that there was too much pressure put on him this season, stunting his growth. Maybe he will be the perfect post-hype candidate in 2013. That said, if you can get him for pennies on the dollar for the remainder of this season, given his track record it is a gamble I would be more than willing to take.

Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals
So, which Alex Gordon is for real? Is it the one who constantly disappointed or the one who finally broke out in 2011? Even if the answer is somewhere in the middle (which is probably the case), better days should be in store.

Granted, he is hitting a few more groundballs this season (43.0%), but he also is consistently hitting the ball with authority (23.6% line drive rate). That type of number tells us that the average should continue to rise from its current .274 mark.

He was consistent in 2011 and, while he may not again provide us with 23 HR, would it really be a sunrise to see him improve in that regard? His minuscule 5.7% HR/FB would be a career worst, even for a player who struggled early on. Don’t be surprised if he manages to finish the year with around 18 HR.

He’s not a speed demon by any means, but he did manage to steal 11 bases in the second half last season. In other words, don’t look at his 3 this season and simply assume he’s not going to start running.

He has the potential to go 10/10 and in the .290 range in the second half of the season while hitting atop a fairly potent Royals lineup. Is that not someone you would want to acquire?


  1. James Shue says:

    In 2011, J.D. Martinez slugged .342 against righties in 158 at bats. In 2012, he’s at .382 in 211 ABs. He can’t hit righties, which is going to be a bit of a problem, obviously. In daily leagues you can play splits, otherwise he’s sort of useless, much like Jesus Montero.

  2. JR Ewing says:

    Remember with Gordon that while his LD% is nice, his GB% is high and his IFFB% (13.6%) is high. That means the amount of well hit FBs is way, way down this year (which gives reason for his low HR/FB). Could just be luck, but it could also be something in his swing. If he hits a ball well it’s a lower trajectory (either LD or GB). The times he’s hitting the ball in the air are mainly when he misses and pops it up. Not saying that’s for sure the case (and I don’t watch many KC games), but that seems to me to be a possibility just looking at the numbers.

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