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Make Your Choice: Josh Hamilton or Justin Upton

by Photo of Andrew Lontos

Would you choose the veteran lefty or the young righty?

Make Your Choice: Josh Hamilton or Justin Upton

As we turn the calendar over to September, the Major League Baseball regular season is winding down. With the playoffs about a month away, CHARGED will be rolling out a daily “Make Your Choice” post. For baseball, we will put two guys who play the same position up against each other and determine who we would want to have on our team during the 2011 postseason. We encourage you to give us your choice in the comments section below.

Today, we look at two stud outfielders: Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers and Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Each player has been in the playoffs only one year- Upton in 2007 and Hamilton last season. Upton was a 19-year old rookie who got 19 plate appearances, while Hamilton had 69 plate appearances last year during the Rangers' World Series run. Similarly to Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez, neither of these players have enough playoff experience to accurately judge them. Both first overall picks in the MLB draft, they have taken very different routes to where they are now. Hamilton received a record signing bonus, only to struggle with severe drug problems that forced him to stop playing baseball for years. He recovered, and has made four straight All Star appearances with the Rangers. Upton has made one All Star appearance in his short career, and at 23, is a prime candidate for the National League MVP award.

Let's take a look at their regular season statistics so far in 2011:

Hamilton- 105 Games, .345 On Base, .522 Slugging, .868 OPS, 19 HRs, 80 RBI

Upton- 142 Games, .379 On Base, .546 Slugging, .925 OPS, 28 HRs, 83 RBI

This was a very tough choice, but we're going with Josh Hamilton. Here's why:

1. Consistent Success

Upton is definitely having the better the 2011, but Hamilton has been consistently outstanding since entering the league. Hamilton produced immediately when called up by the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. In 90 games, he hit 19 home runs and had a .922 OPS. For his career, he averages 32 home runs and a .907 OPS. 2009 was the only year that he had an OPS below .860, when injuries shortened his season to 89 games and a .741 OPS. Last year was the best season of his career. He won the MVP, leading the league in batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS (1.044).

In Upton's five seasons, his 162 game averages consist of 25 home runs and an .850 OPS. While these are great, he's been a little up and down so far in his young career. From his first full season on, his OPS has been: .816, .899, .799, and .925 so far this year. He's yet to break the 1.000 mark that Hamilton did during his MVP campaign. Granted, Hamilton's first four years came when he was 26, 27, 28, and 29. Upton was 19, 20, 21, and 22. But if anything, Hamilton's age is another positive come playoff time.

2. Day Games?

Hamilton's only weakness on the baseball field are day games. He blames his blue eyes for his inability to see the ball in the afternoon sun.  As weird as this sounds, the numbers certainly back it up. In day games this year, Hamilton is hitting an abysmal .192 with a .542 OPS. In night games, he's hitting .330 with a .968 OPS. In fact, he has not hit a home run during the day; all 19 have come at night. For his career, Hamilton's OPS is 246 points lower than it is at night. Luckily for Hamilton and the Rangers, virtually no playoff games are played during the day anymore. Save for an divisional round game or two, Hamilton will be playing in prime-time and won't struggle to see the ball. This all but assures that Hamilton will produce like the top five hitter he is come October. Upton is outstanding, but he'll need to continue to put up stellar numbers before he pulls ahead of the Rangers' star. Upton will probably be the pick next year, but for 2011, Hamilton is the guy.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know!

Check out Charged.fm for the best playoff baseball tickets!

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