Philadelphia Phillies: Why They Should Be Careful Chasing BJ Upton

Zak SchmollAnalyst INovember 2, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 16:  B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on prior to a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 16, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies are the early front-runners in the race for free-agent center fielder B.J. Upton, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

The Phillies should proceed very cautiously if they truly are interested in Upton.

On one hand, he is one of the most physically talented players on the free-agent market this year. Everyone has known for a long time that he is a legitimate five-tool player. He is one of the rare players who has substantial power and speed.

However, we have only had brief glimpses of that brilliance. In 2007, he did hit .300 with 24 home runs, 82 RBI and 22 stolen bases. However, we have not seen all-around excellent numbers like that since. In 2012, he hit .246 with 28 home runs, 78 RBI and 31 stolen bases.

Obviously, some of his numbers improved, but what concerns me most about Upton is his tendency to add to the problem that the Phillies already have. He is a career .255 hitter, and he strikes out in bunches.

As a team last season, the Philadelphia Phillies hit .255. That placed them right in the middle of the league at 15th place.

In theory, it would be desirable to move up this list rather than move down, but given Upton's history, the team batting average could easily drop further.

I know that everything does not rely on batting average, but when you look at the statistics from 2012, batting average is an important determinant of runs scored. I ran a little bit of statistical analysis on team data from last season, and the correlation between runs and batting average came to essentially .75 (for the purpose of full disclosure, I copied the table from the Team Statistics page into Microsoft Excel and ran the Data Analysis add-on package for correlations).

The statistician in me looks at that relationship and worries about dropping the Philadelphia batting average even more. It could drop run production even more.

If he is able to tap into the potential that we all have been waiting for and puts up a season like he demonstrated he could in 2007, he would obviously help in Philadelphia. However, if you look at more recent history, his potential signing is somewhat more questionable.


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