MLB Trade Rumors: Carlos Beltran vs. B.J. Upton, Who's the Better Player?

Timothy HowellCorrespondent IIJuly 25, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: Carlos Beltran vs. B.J. Upton, Who's the Better Player?

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    It seems as though this year's trade deadline is performing at a more lackluster pace. The biggest trade thus far is...K-Rod? Seriously? That's weak. Fear not, as we are now in the less-than-a-week-point of the 2011 MLB fiasco, something huge will be going down before we know it.

    For the past few weeks, we've been hearing plenty—and then some—about big names like Heath Bell and Carlos Beltran. New names are popping up almost daily, some of which are huge—like B.J. Upton.

    Upton's name being thrown into the ring may possibly have to do with the Rays staring at an almost 10-game deficit in the AL East.

    So, if you're looking for an outfielder with a solid bat, who would you choose, Upton or Beltran?

    There are multiple ways to gauge whether or not Upton or Beltran is the better player—all are subjective. Here's five factors that I feel need to be considered in order to help evaluate which player is better for your team to pick up in a trade.

Upton vs. Beltran—Factor No. 1: Age

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    B.J. Upton is 26 years old (he'll be 27 next month), and Carlos Beltran is 34. Granted, youth is more of an upside when you're looking for future value—something teams aren't concerned about at the trade deadline, because they want to win NOW.

    However, it's worth noting that a younger body tends to break down less. And every time I watch Beltran run, I wonder which step it's going to be when his knee gives out for the last time.  

    Although teams may not be concerned with how Upton or Beltran play next year or the year after, you'd better believe they want a player who is going to stay healthy for the remainder of this season. And with Beltran's recent injury history, it's more difficult to gauge his health right now.  


Upton vs. Beltran—Factor No. 2: Speed

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    Carlos Beltran in his prime is easily a better player than B.J. Upton—most likely—will ever be. Multiple knee ailments and Father Time have sapped Beltran of much of his speed.  

    There is no question that Upton is a much better runner than Beltran. However, there are numerous ways to gauge what constitutes "better" in terms of speed.

    Speed is like money—it's better to have it and not need it, than it is to need it and not have it. 

    Carlos Beltran has 292 career stolen bases, and has been caught stealing just 13 percent of the time throughout his career. This is the stolen base equivalent to the man who takes his money, and invests it in something secure for the future—say an annuity, for example.

    B.J. Upton has stolen 188 bases in  his career, and has been caught stealing 30.8 percent of the time. This is the stolen base equivalent of Dez Bryant—he takes his money and blows it on whatever he wants at that particular moment with little or no regard for future well being.

    I'm not trying to say that there is a life lesson to be learned from stolen base percentages. But I am stating the obvious, given the aforementioned statistics: Although Upton is much faster than Beltran, Beltran knows how to use his speed more effectively.


Upton vs. Beltran—Factor No. 3: Hitting

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    Carlos Beltran and B.J. Upton both have 15 home runs so far this season. Upton is actually on pace to break his career high of 24 homers hit in 2007.  

    Beltran has hit his 15 homers in 344 at bats to Upton's 349. Beltran has 100 hits this season, and Upton has 80. Thus, 15 percent of Beltran's hits are home runs as opposed to 18.75 percent of Upton's.  

    All this tells me is that when Upton gets a hit, it's more likely to be a dinger. I'd much rather compare the two players in terms of on-base percentage.

    Thus far in 2011 Beltran's OBP is .393 to Upton's .310. As most will agree, baseball is all about runs scored. If you're not on base, you can't score—I've tried.  

    And to prevent from turning this article into a thesis-length manifesto, let's not even get into career OBP numbers between these two.


Upton vs. Beltran—Factor No. 4: Attitude

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    This is not to say that I think B.J. Upton has a "bad attitude." From what I know about  him, he's a gamer and is very well liked in his clubhouse.  

    However, last year there was an incident that got quite a bit of national attention. Evan Longoria "called-out" Upton for supposedly not hustling during a play. Words were exchanged and fisticuffs nearly broke out.

    Both players publicly apologized, and the team went on to have the best regular season record in the American League.

    The incident does lead me to wonder how a perceived notion of "lack of hustle" might be handled on a team where Upton is the new guy.  

    As we all know, any type of distraction can be extremely detrimental to a team at any point during the season, much less during a stretch-run for a team looking to make the playoffs.

    Of course, the flip-side of this argument can be for those of you who feel that situations such as the Longoria and Upton incident are a positive, because you admire the "fire" in Upton's belly. For me, personally, I prefer the type of player that doesn't call out teammates (Longoria) and doesn't act out physically on the accusations as Upton did.  


Upton vs. Beltran—Factor No. 5: Cash Money Homeboy

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    Granted, for either player, the amount of money pictured above is far less than either one spent on their lunch the other day—at least given the size of their big league earnings to date.  

    Just like any player evaluation, there are an infinite amount of ways to determine value in terms of money.

    Carlos Beltran is in the last year of a seven-year, $119 million deal. He earned an average of $17 million per year.

    B.J. Upton is playing out a one-year deal worth $4.83 million. Upton is going to want a multi-year deal after this season is up, and he rightly deserves it. At his age, the risk of signing him to a long-term contract is much less than signing Beltran to one.  

    Perhaps an X factor of this is that Carlos Beltran is a Scott Boras client. If Scott Boras is your son/daughter/relative's agent, you love him more than Lucy loved Ricardo. Everyone else—which is 99.99 percent of America—despises Boras. He's nails to deal with, and he's going to cost you a pretty penny—there are quite a few teams that refuse to deal with him outright.

    Also, Carlos Beltran is not arbitration eligible following this season. Thus, if you acquire him in a trade and you can't re-sign him, you get no compensation in terms of future draft picks. 


Carlos Beltran Beats out B.J. Upton 3-2

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    So there you have it. According to my far-less-than-scientific analysis of Carlos Beltran versus B.J. Upton, Beltran wins out, 3-2.  

    It'll be interesting to see where Beltran and Upton land in the next few days—and even more interesting who they will sign with in the offseason.

    I hope you enjoyed this article. Please feel free to let me know what you think and who you'd rather have between these two superstars.  

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