Justin Upton has played 731 games in his career, scoring 438 runs and tallying 363 RBI over that span. For a middle-of-the-order bat with the power potential Upton has, you might expect those run and RBI totals to be flipped.
Last season’s disappointing 17 homers and 67 RBI weren’t exactly the encore that Diamondbacks fans had in mind after Upton posted a .289/31/88 season in a breakout 2011 campaign, and ultimately it lead to his arrival in Atanta. Whether it was the lack of progress (and early season thumb injury probably has a lot to do with it) or a poor fit with ownership is irrelevant now. Upton (doesn’t matter which we’re talking about) is a Brave now.
And as a Brave, Upton is going to impress. Like I said in the previous paragraph, it’s likely that a thumb injury suffered in the third game of the season led to his decreased power totals. If you don’t swing a baseball bat very often, I suggest you go grab one and take a couple hacks. Imagine your thumb and/or wrist is ailing, or, better yet, find someone whose thumb and/or wrist actually is ailing and have them do it. It’s not comfortable. At all.
So toss the power numbers out the window. Look at Upton’s second straight season with a strikeout rate under 20% (the first was in his 31-homer season) and his first season with a line drive rate over 20% since 2008. Don’t worry about the drop in fly balls (the injury), and notice how Upton has twice parlayed an OBP over .350 into over 100 runs scored.
Prepare for a monster season from Upton, especially with the added motivation of showing up his older brother.
At a Glance
- Strengths: R, HR, RBI, SB, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS
- Neutral: none
- Weaknesses: none
- Best-case scenario: a healthy Matt Kemp (LAD)
- Likely scenario: Andrew McCutchen (PIT), Jason Heyward (ATL), Bryce Harper (WAS)
- Worst-case scenario: Alex Rios (CHW)
Justin Upton 2013 Fantasy Projection
Upton has the pleasure of batting third in a very strong lineup. Jason Heyward is a great hitter to bat behind, and Freddie Freeman and B.J. Upton are a scary four-five duo. As explained in the intro, expect more power this season, probably something in the 25-30-homer range. That will mean an appropriate number of RBI (90+) from a three-hole hitter with 30-homer power batting third in a very good MLB lineup.
Add in Upton’s proven run-scoring ability and his perennial 20-steal potential, and you have a young batter with no weaknesses and a lot to prove. Last season we had Upton as a first-round pick in fantasy leagues, and that doesn’t change this season. Despite him checking in at 10 in our player profile countdown, we have him as the eighth-best player of 2013.