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Why B.J. Upton Doesn't at All Deserve His New Atlanta Braves Contract

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a two-run homer against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning  on September 30,  2012 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images
Ron JuckettContributor IIINovember 28, 2012

The Atlanta Braves signed former Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton to a five-year deal reportedly worth $75,250,000 Wednesday night, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

That is an absurd amount of money for the 28-year-old speedster.

Taking advantage of being the first of the big names to sign this offseason, the Braves land basically a sightly below-average defender that strikes out at least 150 times a year and hit .246 in 2012.

Upton does hit for power and he does steal bases.

The last five years in Tampa, in fact, he stole at least 30 bases a year, and he stole 44 in 2008. It should be noted, however, that he only stole 31 last season.

Power wise, Upton can rake. After hitting 23 home runs in 2001, Upton hit a career-high 28 in his last season at Tropicana Field.

He also struck out 169 times last year, which was good enough to be the fourth on the American League strikeout leaderboard.

Another worry for Upton is his seemingly disappearing patience at the plate. 

Upton walked a career-low 45 times in 2012, down from 71 in 2011. His on-base percentage was a career-low .298, and for all his speed, he only scored 79 times.

Yet despite an apparently subpar season, the Braves saw fit to more than double Upton's previous $7 million salary.

The Braves are banking on him playing over 140 games in center, hitting 20-plus home runs and swiping over 30 bags.

What they got is a guy who is below average defensively and makes a ton of unproductive outs at the plate. 

He does not drive in many runs—only topping 80 twice in his career—and posted a sabermetric WAR (wins above replacement) of 2.6 last year.

Now, a starter should be posting a WAR above two, but an All-Star should have a WAR score above five. 

Upton, though, has never actually been selected to the All-Star Game.

While he probably was in line for a raise in this new contract, Upton has really not proven worthy of what the Braves are hoping to pay for.

Better yet, if Upton can draw this kind of money, what exactly will Josh Hamilton command when he is finally signed? 

 

*Statistics via Baseball-Reference.

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