San Francisco Giants: 4 Reasons Why They Should Sign B.J. Upton


June 3, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder BJ Upton (2) hits a single against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-US PRESSWIRE

There’s one minor downside to winning the World Series; you have minimal planning time to prepare for the off season. The Giants are in that boat. Management will soon have to make big decisions on who to keep, who to let walk, and who to target in free agency.

B.J. Upton will hit the open market after spending eight years with the Tampa Bay/Devil Rays. While he has yet to live up to the expectations that were on him after he complied 24 home runs at 22 years-old, he has yet to reach his peek.

The Giants will be looking for outfielders to patch up a hole in left field, and possibly centerfield should Angel Pagan depart, and Upton could be a good fit. However, why not resign Pagan and stick Upton in left field?

Here are three reasons why the Giants should sign Upton:

1. Power Fits AT&T Park

The general assumption around the baseball world is that AT&T Park’s spacious dimensions permit any fly ball from leaving the yard. Yes, the park’s dimensions play a fairly decent role, but the left field bleachers are not as hard to reach compared to right center field, or more commonly known as “Triples Alley.” Fittingly, B.J. Upton’s tendencies fit AT&T Park.

Upton, who hit a career-high 28 home runs in 2012, power mostly sprays to left field. According to Fangrpahs, 20 of his 28 home runs landed to the pull side, which for Upton, is left field. Granted, every ballpark’s figuring plays differently, but it is safe to assume that most those 20 homers would reach the seats in San Francisco.

2. Cheaper Alternative To Fill The Left Field Gap

The obvious, and more appealing option to plug the gap in left field for the Giants, is none other than Josh Hamilton. He’s nothing short of an attention grabber, and possess the gaudy power that San Francisco hasn’t seen since the Barry Bonds era. So it’s no wonder that everyone in the San Francisco area craves Hamilton’s services.

However, Hamilton’s sheer power could be partly limited in the confines of AT&T Park. Of his 43 home runs, four were to the opposite field and 21 went out to centerfield, with the other 18 to right field. Considering that AT&T Park checks in as the least favorable stadium for home run hitters according to ESPN park factors, Hamilton’s numbers could conceivably take a brisk hit. Whereas Upton wouldn’t have such as high expectations, and would obviously come at a much cheaper tab.

According to Jon Heyman, the Rays will reportedly offer Upton a contract in the range of $10-$14 million. In comparison, Hamilton will probably draw a salary roughly in the range of $20-25 million. So there’s a substantial gap between the two supposed projections. Plus, if you consider the baggage that Hamilton brings, Upton is a safer alternative financially.

3. He Can Play Defense at AT&T Park

Defense is always a factor for Giants’ management in the negotiating process because AT&T Park is not a walk in the park defensively. It consists of big gaps, an array of obstacles, and the wind adjusting the landing of the ball.

Before Games 1 and 2 of the World Series, the Tigers were somewhat concerned about playing the slow-footed Delmon Young in left field. Except for one lousy throw, he didn’t cost the Tigers much except for the nagging mental picture of him making countless miscues.

With Upton, AT&T Park should not be that large of an adjustment. He possess above average speed to close in on tailing liners, a strong arm, and decent awareness. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who has been a center fielder for the majority of his five-year career. Transitioning from center to left is not as hard as the vice versa. Additionally, left field isn’t that daunting at AT&T Park. It is right field that raises some white flags from visiting outfielders, such as Vladimir Guerrero in the 2010 World Series.

4. More Speed

In 2011, the Giants as a team stole 85 bases. Bruce Bochy saw that total rise to 118 this past season thanks to the additions of Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, and a more speed-oriented approach. The results prove that speed made them a more lethal team, adding another weapon in their back pockets. And for the Giants, who don’t heavily lean on the long ball to score runs, taking the extra base is crucial to peppering the scoreboard.

Upton would fit in quite well with this newly acquired tactic. Perhaps he could be even better of a fit than Pagan or Blanco. His 162 game average in the stolen bases department in 39, as he has always been one of the A.L’s stolen bases leaders. Assuming the Giants resign Angel Pagan, Bochy would have two extremely fast base runners to create havoc with. It’t just another tool in his toolbox.

On the hitting side of the spectrum, “Triples Alley” would be a source of triples for Upton. Pagan led the majors in triples in 2012 due to that spacious gap in right centerfield, and Upton could followed a similar path.