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Why Phillies should not sign B.J. Upton
by Scott Butler 11/25/12

B.J. Upton is undoubtedly the name you have heard most often in relation to the Phillies free agent centerfield targets. In many ways he is an ideal fit. He is just 28-years-old, can steal bases, is a great fielder, hits for power, and still has tremendous tools and potentially huge and largely untapped upside potential.

True, his average of 39 steals per season plus his 28 home runs last season aren't too shabby, especially with the short porches at Citizens Bank Park. But those facts mask serious flaws in Upton's game.

Along with Upton's 2012 totals of 28 home runs, 31 steals, and a .454 slugging percentage comes a .246 batting average, .298 on base percentage, and 169 strikeouts which were fourth-most in the American League.

Ruben Amaro does not seem to have a problem with the strikeouts. "It's interesting that people talk about the strikeouts a lot," Amaro said. "I think we had one of the least number of strikeouts in the entire National League. To me, it’s all about production. If a guy strikes out, as long as he produces runs.

"I’m about run production -- scoring runs, driving in runs, as long as we have players that can do that and do that consistently, then I’m fine with the strikeouts. I don’t like the strikeouts, but I can live with them if people are continuing to be productive."

Herein lies the problem. From all the talk surrounding Upton you would assume the strikeouts are the necessary price for tremendous production. But in reality Upton is not all that productive. From a slugging percentage perspective, Upton is just marginally above average. His .454 SLG last season was 49 points above the league average, but that figure is the second best of his career with a career slugging percentage of .422 which is just 17 points above the average major leaguer.

Back to the strikeouts. Upton struck out 169 times last season, which was 58 more than anyone on the Phillies last year. That is just 24 strikeouts less than Howard's average of 193 strikeouts per season, but Howard is 129 points better than Upton in career slugging and 157 points better in OPS. Upton even averages 17 more strikeouts per season than Pat Burrell. B.J. Upton is simply a strikeout machine.

Finally, his abysmal on base percentage. His .298 OBP last season would have ranked him 21st on the 2012 Phillies. That is unacceptable for a player who strikeouts at such an alarming rate.

All of that for a price tag of four or five years at $15 million or more per year?! Not if I'm paying.

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