What B.J. Upton Brings to the Atlanta Braves' Offense

Daniel KockContributor IIIDecember 24, 2012

With B.J. Upton signing the most lucrative deal in Atlanta Braves' history, comes great expectations.

Upton quickly became the Braves No. 1 target to replace Michael Bourn in center field this offseason.

The reason for that?

The answer is the rare combination of speed and power.

General manager Frank Wren hopes he is picking up Upton in the prime of his career and truly reaches his potential.

Upton has proven in his time at the major league level that he will hit for power and he can run.

Last season, Upton came two home runs short of having a 30-30 season. The last five National League players to have a 30-30 season are Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright and Jimmy Rollins.

Some pretty impressive players are on that list, and the Braves believe Upton can join them.

Here are his stolen base totals for the last five years:  44, 42, 42, 36 and 31.

He can run and expect the Braves to take advantage of that whether it is in a straight steal or hit-and-run situation.

Upton will be able to make up for some of Bourn's 42 stolen bases in 2012 and was only caught stealing six times in comparison to Bourn's 12.

Where Upton will undoubtedly outperform Bourn is home runs.

After an odd drop-off in home runs in 2008, where he just hit nine, he has increased his home-run total each season since and hit a career high 28 last year.

The Braves needed more right-handed power in their lineup to complement left-handed hitters Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann.

It is unclear where exactly he will fit in the lineup but expect him to be anywhere from cleanup to the No. 6 slot.

If he hits cleanup, he will likely separate Heyward and Freeman. If he hits in the No. 5 hole, he will likely separate Freeman and McCann.

This makes it more difficult for managers to just throw a left-handed pitcher at the Braves at the end of games.

Best-case scenario for the Braves is that Upton reaches his full potential and has an Andrew McCutchen-type season.

Upton would have to raise both his batting average and on-base percentage to have that kind of season.

If not, Braves' fans know they can expect to get a high number of steals and home runs.

What does Upton bring to the Braves' offense?

Speed and power.