The trade deadline is nearing and just like a Whack-A-Mole, Justin Upton’s name keeps popping up. When he recently said “I don’t care anything what the fans think of me “, it may have alienated some fans and only sparked more speculation as to what the Diamondbacks may do before the July 31, 2012 deadline. Let’s dig into the past, present, and future of Justin Upton.
Right Now: First things first, who is Justin Upton right now? At this point in his career he clearly isn’t the superstar many had projected him to be when he was drafted first overall in 2005. He has had flashes of solid play throughout the current season but for the most part has struggled to find a consistent stroke at the plate. After starting the second half of the season 0-10 his AVG fell to .264 and he has only 7 HRs to go along with that mediocre average. The trade speculation obviously has Upton frustrated as he can be seen angrily muttering to himself after each strikeout.
Past: Last season he was the centerpiece of a total team effort leading the D-Backs to the playoffs. His 105 runs, 31 HRs, 21 SBs, and .289 AVG was good enough to earn him 4th in the NL MVP voting. In 2009 his 26 HRs and .300 AVG were also quite impressive for a 22 year old.
Future: This is where the argument begins, will he ever be the superstar he was touted to be when he was compared to the likes of Ken Griffey Jr? He still has all the talent necessary to be a dependable 35 HR hitter, but does he have the head to do so? Some look to his brother BJ, who also never lived up to his own lofty expectations, as a blueprint of what to anticipate. BJ is a career .255 hitter who has never sniffed a 30 HR season.
Hold or Fold: Support continues to grow to cut ties while the D-Backs can still get good value for Upton. Their argument is that he will always be a streaky hitter, a run-of-the mill outfielder, and never be the perennial all-star D-Back fans were hoping for. While a short memory for a hitter may be a positive, I would caution the management to have that same mentality. Undoubtedly Upton has struggled this season but don’t forget that he was barely 24 years old when those MVP votes were cast in 2011, ‘o the good old days. It’s fair to find out what a trade would return and he wouldn’t be doing his job if GM Kevin Towers didn’t at least listen to offers. If the D-Backs are blown away with a deal that includes high end prospects as well as a Major League ready 3rd baseman it might be tough to reject, however I don’t think the offers will get that high. Upton is never going to win a Gold Glove, he may not win an MVP, but he can still be a great player. He is having a disappointing season but I believe he will bounce back and make a handful more All Star games. The talent and possibilities are too high to give up on him now and nothing would be worse than seeing him wearing a different jersey when he figures it out.
About the Author
Written by Chas Forsythe
Nearly everyone who lives in Arizona is from somewhere else and sports allegiances are spread across the country. It can be frustrating for a native Arizonan. I watched the birth of an NFL, MLB, & NHL team, the Suns landed here before I was even a twinkle in my parents eyes. I have a good feel for the teams and fans here, I look forward to providing my insights and would love to hear back from anyone with an opinion on Arizona sports.