MLB Trade Deadline: Atlanta Braves Should Target BJ Upton over Hunter Pence

Shaun PayneContributor IIJuly 29, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 25:  B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on July 25, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

BJ Upton, for his career, has put up above-average production offensively, is a plus defender in center field, and is only 26.

Hunter Pence has been slightly more productive offensively, but when you factor in defense and position, he wouldn’t add as much value to the Atlanta Braves as Upton.

Pence would be a below-average center fielder defensively, and he doesn’t add much defensive value in a corner-spot. His offense also becomes less valuable in a corner spot.

Pence, once you factor in the whole package, wouldn’t add any more than what Prado or Heyward have done so far this season.

In fact, going forward, Prado and Heyward are likely to be more valuable than Pence.

And Pence is 28.

You need to be able to process more information than just OBP and SLG to realize that Upton is more worthwhile than Pence. You need to be able to take into account ballparks, position, defense, age, etc.

That’s not to say Upton is worth whatever package the Rays want from the Braves—he may be too expensive in terms of prospects.

And maybe the package required to get Pence is much more worthwhile. Maybe the Astros will part with Pence for very little. In that case, I’m all for getting Pence.

But all things being equal, Upton is clearly the guy over Pence.

You acquire Upton for his on-base skills relative to other plus defensive center fielders, particularly other center-field options for the Braves. And once you factor in ballpark and league, Upton's OBP isn’t too bad relative to the aforementioned groups.

McLouth’s on-base skills may be pretty much on par with Upton’s, but defensive skill separates those two players.

It also doesn’t hurt that Upton is a right-handed hitter and the Braves could use a right-handed bat. 

Braves fans should hope that the Atlanta front office has done this sort of analysis and doesn't give up a pitcher like Mike Minor in a package for Hunter Pence.