The tone of the discussion indicates that Upton is considerably less desirable than either Beltran or Pence, but perhaps that’s misleading. When you peel away the fact that he’s underachieved relative to expectations, Upton has been a very valuable player over the last few years (see graph).
Since the start of the 2007 season, Upton has been almost as valuable as Pence and Beltran when you consider both offense and defense, something that Wins Above Replacement does very well.
Wins Above Replacement
Since Start of 2007 Season
As teams search for impact bats, the highest profile player available is, perhaps, Beltran. After battling knee injuries the previous two years, the free-agent-to-be finally is healthy and back to producing at a high level. According to Buster Olney, Beltran’s primary suitors are the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox.
So, which of these teams need Beltran the most?
The team that makes the most sense on paper -- both offensively and defensively -- is San Francisco. It’s no secret that the Giants are starved for offense:
• 3.6 runs per game, which ranks 26th in MLB.
• Scored four or more runs in only 43 of 102 games, the second fewest just ahead of the Seattle Mariners.
• 37-6 when scoring at least four runs. Only one team has a higher winning percentage when scoring four or more runs (Phillies, 44-5).
Most Defensive Runs Saved
Right Fielders This Season
Besides the boost Beltran would provide offensively -- his .910 OPS would be tops on the Giants -- his skills in right field would strengthen the team’s defense. Beltran has saved nine runs this season in right field, the third most in the majors among right fielders. Giants right fielders have cost the team 10 runs this season, which is last in the majors.
What’s more, Beltran has a history of excelling in the postseason. No player in MLB history with at least 75 postseason plate appearances has a higher OPS in the postseason than Beltran’s 1.302.
-- Dan Braunstein, Justin Havens and Lee Singer contributed to this post