According to MLBTradeRumors.com, the Philadelphia Phillies are, to this point, most interested in Hunter Pence and possibly Carlos Quentin, and are really on the outside looking in with respect to B.J. Upton.
If you are a Phillies fan right now, here are a few reasons to be very excited about the possibility of the Phils acquiring Upton.
First of all, Upton is absolutely one of the players in baseball who has the most raw talent in the game right now. At the age of 26, Upton currently has 188 career stolen bases and 82 career home runs, and in 2011, despite hitting just .227, he already has 15 home runs and 23 stolen bases, putting him just behind a 30/30 pace.
But offense is just one side of this guy. Throughout his career, Upton has been an absolutely dynamic defender in center field, and a big part of the Tampa Bay Rays' turnaround of the last few years. From a defensive perspective, an outfield featuring Upton and Shane Victorino would be one of the finest in Major League Baseball.
But let's go back to Upton's hitting, because there is more than meets the eye here.
Upton is being characterized by some as a classic change of scenery guy, which is a way of putting a positive spin on the fact that he has fallen out of favor with the Tampa Bay Rays organization the last couple of years.
Nevertheless, whether this characterization is valid or not, Upton has demonstrated in the past that he has power and speed, as well as the ability to hit for average and to get on base, he just has not done those things the last couple of years.
Or has he?
The Tampa Bay Rays play in a very peculiar ballpark, arguably the worst in the majors, and that ballpark does some interesting things to hitters. So check this out:
In 2011, Upton has hit .278 with an .827 OPS, with nine home runs and 39 RBI on the road, while hitting just .171 with a .562 OPS and six home runs and 14 RBI at home.
So, in that sense, Upton could literally be a "change of scenery" guy, in that his home ballpark is actually hurting him.
Perhaps with the right change of scenery—like, say, moving to a hitter's park?—Upton's bat could come alive at home to compliment his road numbers, and suddenly he becomes an absolute asset.
If the Phillies feel that the Astros are asking too much for Hunter Pence, and the Rays are motivated sellers for Upton, this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
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