Thursday, November 29, 2012

B.J. Upton's Offensive Numbers Remind Me Of...

B.J. Upton's bubble will never burst after signing a lucrative deal with the Braves.

The Atlanta Braves made quite a splash on Wednesday, signing former Tampa Bay Rays outfielder B.J. Upton to a five-year deal worth $75.25 million.  The 28-year-old is coming off a year in which he missed a 30/30 campaign by two homers (28 HR, 31 SB), but only hit .246 and reached base at a paltry .298 clip.

Upton is now the highest-paid Brave on a team that features veteran players like Dan Uggla, Brian McCann and Tim Hudson.  But let's look at his numbers since his breakout year in 2007, a year in which he hit .300 with 24 HR and 82 RBI.

In 2008, Upton only hit nine homers, but stole a career-high 44 bases.  He followed that up with a Beltran-like post-season, hitting seven homers and stealing six bases in 16 games for the American League champion Rays.  He also averaged exactly one run scored and one RBI per playoff game (16 runs, 16 RBI).  But over his next four seasons (2009-12), an average Upton season has consisted of a .242 batting average, .316 on-base percentage, 82 runs scored, 69 RBI, 32 doubles, 20 HR, 38 stolen bases and 162 strikeouts.

Let's put those numbers together with the five and six-year averages of three other players who will remain nameless at the moment.

  • Upton ('09-'12): .242 BA, .316 OBP, 82 runs, 69 RBI, 32 doubles, 20 HR, 38 SB, 162 K
  • Player #1 ('90-'95): .273 BA, .348 OBP, 95 runs, 95 RBI, 27 doubles, 29 HR, 30 SB, 103 K
  • Player #2 ('99-'04): .252 BA, .347 OBP, 87 runs, 81 RBI, 30 doubles, 23 HR, 28 SB, 148 K
  • Player #3 ('87-'91): .258 BA, .347 OBP, 96 runs, 95 RBI, 31 doubles, 31 HR, 32 SB, 113 K

Upton leads all three anonymous players in stolen bases and doubles, but not by much.  However, he has a lower batting average, lower on-base percentage, has scored fewer runs, driven in fewer runs, hit fewer homers and has struck out more than all three players.  In some cases, he trails the other players by quite a bit.

If Upton will be averaging a little over $15 million per season for the duration of his five-year contract with the Braves, then how much would Ron Gant, Mike Cameron and Howard Johnson make in this era?  (And yes, those are the identities of the formerly unnamed players listed above.)

HoJo can't believe the amount of money B.J. Upton will be making with Atlanta.

Here are four more things you may not have known about Upton.  He's never been an All-Star, he's never won a Gold Glove, he's never earned a Silver Slugger Award and he's never received an MVP vote.  Meanwhile, Gant, Cameron and Johnson combined to make five All-Star teams, win three Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger Awards, while earning MVP votes in nine separate seasons.

Despite their impressive statistics and postseason accolades, neither player was considered the best player on his team nor was any of them the highest paid.  But Upton - who has a bunch of zeroes next to his All-Star selections, Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger Awards and MVP votes - can now brag about some more zeroes, namely the ones on his contract that make him the highest paid member of the Atlanta Braves.

Maybe B.J. Upton will play well in Atlanta.  But is he truly deserving of the $75-plus million he'll be receiving until he's 33, especially for a player who's never been the best at anything he does, and in various offensive categories, is well below average?

Ron Gant, Mike Cameron and Howard Johnson are probably shaking their heads right now knowing how much they could have earned had they been in their prime in 2012.  B.J. Upton is just shaking his checkbook.

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