Originally written on The Baseball Page  |  Last updated 11/14/14

BJ Upton has been the face of the Tampa Bay Rays, bridging the gap between the Carl Crawford era and the Evan Longoria era. Upton is usually thought of as a speedy defensive centerfielder with some serious pop. A super high ceiling guy with the potential to be an unstoppable star. Upton has never really reached that potential, instead showing flashes of brilliance that seem likely to price him out of Tampa this winter when he finally hits free agency. Here’s the thing though, I took a look at Upton’s stats and, though he’s got an outside shot at 30-30 every season, he’s not nearly as good as he gets credit for and his dismal average and on base percentage greatly detracts from his value. The question of what exactly BJ Upton is is really the most important part of any discussion about him.

If you think that Upton has the potential to be the best 2 hitter in the game, a speedster with unprecedenTed Power who can hit .300 year in and year out while stealing 30 bags and hitting 30 homers, then you have been sorely disappointed. Upton is way closer to a .240 hitter than a .300 hitter and he strikes out a ton: about 150 times per season, good for the top 6 in that category in each of the last 6 seasons. If you think Upton is a 6 hitter who brings to the table the added bonus of stolen base potential and good centerfield defense, however, you might better understand what Upton IS. BJ Upton shouldn’t be counted on to carry a team (that’s not really a knock on him, there are only a handful of guys in all of baseball that can) and he shouldn’t be the centerpiece of an offense. But, as a solid defender who can hit behind the big guns in a lineup and drive in some runs, hit a some homers and restart a few rallies after homers, he’s very valuable. There are not a lot of guys with 30-30 ability in the major leagues. That’s the big thing with Upton, he’s not a transcendant talent. He hasn’t made an All-Star game, he hasn’t hit above .250 since 2008, his closest player comparisons on Baseball Reference include Paul Blair, a guy who once hit .197 over the course of a full season. He a good player but he’s not great. He does a few things well and a few things really poorly.

So what is Upton worth? He is currently making $7 million this season. He made a little less than $5 mil last season. Given their limited payroll, the Rays don’t seem like they will be able to resign Upton this offseason if he asks for anything more than he’s currently making (which he will).

To help me answer this question, I tried to use a player comparison. Who is Upton most similar to and what is that guy making? In my mind, Upton has a lot of similarities to Alfonso Soriano. Upton is, of course, younger and in better shape, but both are/were speed guys with unusual power. Sorianoo, his dramatic recent decline and his health issues not withstanding, is better. He’s hit more home runs, stolen more bags and has a higher average. Upton is a better defender, however.

Now, Soraino is making something near $19 million a year but he is dramatically overpaid. There is no way that Upton should be making what Soriano is making. Nothing close. Soriano is a good comparison of ability and would be a good ceiling for Upton’s paycheck if he was 7 years younger and paid appropriately. Instead, I’m going to use Nick Swisher.

Swisher doesn’t have the speed Upton does and is three years older but he’s more consistent, has an equal amount of pop, a better average, and gets paid for being a great clubhouse guy. Swisher will also be a free agent this winter but this season he’s making about $10.5 mil. Last year, he made $9.1 mil. That seems about right.

If BJ Upton found a team that wanted him to be their centerfielder and 5 or 6 hitter and wanted him to do it for about $11 million a year for 5 years (Nationals and Giants to name just two. ), all would be harmonious in the baseball world.

-Max Frankel

1 Comment:
  • The Rays wonder why there are not more people in the stands & I think it is because the Rays ownership are not supporting the team like they should. Instead of keeping the really good players they trade them off for lesser experienced players because they are cheaper.They have a low payroll. They don't seem to be interested in winning a World Series & being a top team. They just want to take young players & train them for other teams. They will probably trade Price, Shields & Rodney instead of paying them a higher salary. They must take the money they get for these type of players & put the money into their trainging camps in other countries. Players now days all seem to come from Central America etc. I'd like to hear some others comments on this. They want to move the stadium into Tampa for more attendance but that isn't going to solve the problem.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

JJ Watt's bloody face defines 2014 campaign

Dominic Raiola insists he didn't intentionally stomp opponent

Jets call themselves the best 3-12 team in NFL history

Cam Newton calls out 'classless' Panthers fans

Report: 49ers to part ways with Harbaugh after season finale

Brad Stevens shoots down rumors he's headed to Hoosiers

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jameis Winston cleared in code of conduct case

Sherman: Patrick Peterson would be benched on Seahawks

Fans struck by lightning after Buccaneers-Packers game

Report: Philip Rivers playing through painful back injury

Report: Bears could have interest in Jim Harbaugh

Report: Shanahan interested in coaching next season

Miami Dolphins electing to keep Joe Philbin a smart decision

Coughlin tells Beckham Jr to tone down TD celebrations

WATCH: Lynch ‘thanks the media for asking’ questions

10 takeaways from NFL Week 16

Tony Romo leads Dallas Cowboys to NFC East title

Ole Miss QB arrested after fighting, threatening bouncers

WATCH: Marshawn Lynch's ridiculous TD run

WATCH: Steelers' Gay draws flag for taunting teammate

WATCH: Three players ejected after Giants-Rams fight

WATCH: Dominic Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

WATCH: Arian Foster throws TD pass, drops scoreboard taunt

WATCH: Johnny Manziel leaves with injury after taking big hit

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

JJ Watt's bloody face defines 2014 campaign

Jets claim to be best 3-12 team ever

10 takeaways from NFL Week 16

Cam Newton calls out 'classless' Panthers fans

Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

Bears interested in Jim Harbaugh?

Shanahan to return to 2015?

Browns interested in drafting Mariota?

Mullen wears funny Christmas sweater

RG3 returning to Redskins?

Tom Izzo hot after bad loss

Kings, Nets talking Deron Williams trade

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.