Upton already changing course

Justin Upton is hitting like the 2012 season never happened. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

One of the misnomers about projections is that they simply amount to a single number, frozen in time. Instead, it's best to think of a single projection as an uncertain middle point in an array of possibilities, one in which a lot of things can happen as a result of the uncertainty inherent in predicting the future. The season is not quite three weeks old, but already early-season performances are enough to nudge our expectations one way or the other.

Anyone who has watched a poker tournament is intimately familiar with how the odds of winning can drastically change when an ace or a diamond is dealt, turning the favorite into an underdog in the flick of a dealer's wrist. While the changes here aren't quite as dramatic, performance in small sample sizes can shift projections significantly, given the new information that's added to the model.

But enough with the lecture, let's look at six prominent position players who have seen shifts in their future ZiPS projections. Why the focus on hitters? Hitters tend to be more stable than pitchers, so dramatic changes in play tend to change expectations quicker.


Justin Upton | OF, Atlanta Braves

Preseason projection: .263/.348/.442

New projection: .263/.352/.466

After a down 2012, his worst since 2008, there were a number of questions surrounding the loss of Justin Upton's power. How much of that was the nagging thumb injury? How would Upton fare in a less homer-friendly park? Is he just not as good as we hoped?

Upton's done his best to answer these questions early on, with eight home runs in 61 plate appearances, almost half of his entire 2012 total of 17 dingers.