Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 5/15/13

Justin Upton is good, but not great. Over his career, Upton has been in the top ten of MVP voting once, named to two all-star teams, and won one silver slugger. But for some reason, people talk about him like he’s won five MVPs, has been named an all-star every year, and has won multiple silver slugger and gold glove awards. The Diamondbacks drafted Upton with the first overall pick in the 2005 draft. This past offseason, Arizona finally realized he wasn’t living up to his potential and traded him to the Braves. Photo Credit: (AP Photo) The younger Upton faced his former team for the first time last night in Arizona since he was traded. During his time with the Diamondbacks, Upton never had a better start than this season. Here are his numbers so far this season… 13 homers, 23 RBIs, .285 AVG, .398 OBP While with the DBacks, Upton’s best year was in 2011 when he finished fourth in the NL MVP voting. That year, Upton hit .289 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs in 159 games (his 31 HR and 88 RBIs are career-highs). But in 2012, Upton took a big step back. The outfielder hit .280 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs in 150 games. In just 37 games with the Braves, Upton is already 4 homers short of tying his 2012 total. What this means is that Upton is one of the most confusing players to evaluate. Upton has always been viewed as a player that is on the brink of entering his prime. But after 5 full seasons, one has to wonder if Upton is already in his prime. Upton has dealt with injuries throughout his entire career. He has only played more than 140 games in a season twice (2011 and 2012), but that shouldn’t matter. In his two full seasons, Upton has been good, but not great. Now that he’s in Atlanta, Upton might finally become the great player Arizona hoped he would be. It seems like for the last five years, Upton has been a popular named thrown around on July 31st and at the winter meetings. This past offseason, Upton was finally traded for a couple of prospects and Martin Prado. This mediocre package shows that Upton is nowhere near as good as a couple other players drafted after him in 2005. Photo Credit: (David Goldman/ AP Photo) Ryan Zimmerman (4th), Ryan Braun (5th), and Troy Tulowitzki (7th) were all taken after Upton in the 2005 draft. If the Nationals, Brewers and Rockies traded their 2005 first round draft picks right now, they would receive a much better package than the DBacks received. While each player has their own issues (Tulowitzki and Zimmerman have dealt with injuries while Braun has dealt with steroid allegations), each player has shown signs of greatness over multiple seasons while Upton has barely even touched it. For Upton to be considered great, he has to do a couple things his fellow 2005 first round draft picks have already done. Break the 100 RBI barrier, which is something he has yet to do. (Zimmerman has done it twice, Braun five times (all in the last five seasons), and Tulowitzki once but totaled between 90 and 100 three times) Finish in the top ten in MVP voting again, something he has only done once. (Zimmerman hasn’t at all, Braun has three times including winning it in 2011, and Tulowitzki has done three times). Zimmerman, Braun, and Tulowitzki aren’t great in terms of every player ever because the three aren’t hall-of-famers, yet. But in relation to other current players, the three are considered great players, while Upton is not. To be great, Upton has to be the player tons of baseball analysts thought he would be when he was drafted first overall in 2005. But as of right now, it’s pretty simple. Upton is good, but not great. - Lauterbach

PLAYERS: Justin Upton
TEAMS: Atlanta Braves
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