Justin Upton
Justin Upton
31-Year-Old OutfielderOF
Los Angeles Angels
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Though he’s swapped uniforms four times over the past five years, Upton has seen little change in his overall production. Over that stretch, he’s logged at least 600 plate appearances each season and has finished with no fewer than 25 home runs, 75 runs, 80 RBI and eight stolen bases. While Upton’s first full season in Anaheim saw him reach the lower end of most of those benchmarks, the underlying numbers suggested there’s been little degradation in his performance at the dish heading into his age-31 campaign. His walk and strikeout rates were roughly in line with his career marks, while his 43.8% hard-hit rate and 8.3% barrel rate both placed him in the top 30 among all qualified batters. Upton’s activity on the basepaths should gradually tail off now that he’s on the wrong side of 30, but another season of useful power production combined with a non-toxic batting average looks attainable. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a five-year, $106 million contract with the Angels in November of 2017.
Back in action Tuesday
OFLos Angeles Angels
March 19, 2019
Upton (knee) is starting in left field and hitting leadoff Tuesday against the Rockies, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports.
As expected, Upton, who has been battling knee tendinitis throughout camp, has been cleared to make his long-awaited Cactus League debut Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, the outfielder should still have plenty of time to get ready for Opening Day, with eight exhibition games scheduled beforehand.
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Batting Stats
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2016
Even Split
Since 2016vs Left .826 465 64 25 76 5 .256 .335 .490
Since 2016vs Right .829 1409 197 71 205 26 .259 .339 .490
2018vs Left .593 143 15 5 17 1 .195 .273 .320
2018vs Right .875 470 65 25 68 7 .277 .366 .509
2017vs Left 1.155 143 27 12 31 3 .344 .427 .728
2017vs Right .828 492 73 23 78 11 .252 .341 .486
2016vs Left .754 179 22 8 28 1 .236 .313 .441
2016vs Right .783 447 59 23 59 8 .249 .309 .474
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2016
OPS at Home
OPS at Home
OPS at Home
OPS at Home
Since 2016Home .903 866 128 53 149 15 .275 .359 .544
Since 2016Away .764 1008 133 43 132 16 .244 .320 .444
2018Home .919 299 43 22 57 3 .277 .351 .568
2018Away .698 314 37 8 28 5 .238 .338 .361
2017Home .974 292 50 17 52 6 .294 .387 .587
2017Away .840 343 50 18 57 8 .256 .338 .502
2016Home .811 275 35 14 40 6 .255 .338 .473
2016Away .746 351 46 17 47 3 .239 .288 .459
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Stat Review
How does Justin Upton compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
There's little upside in drafting Upton at this point, but you know what you're getting. The 30-year-old has been extremely durable throughout his career, totaling at least 620 plate appearances in each of the last seven seasons, and the fluctuation in that time in terms of quality of performance has been marginal. His strikeout rate has been elevated over 28 percent in each of the past two seasons, and indeed the batting average seems destined to fall back (.341 BABIP, .244 xBA), but it shouldn't fall off a cliff as Upton has been hitting the ball harder and he boosted his walk rate back up to over 11 percent in 2017. The flyball rate has been stable, and he ran more after the move to Anaheim at the waiver trade deadline, which bodes well as he re-upped with the Angels on a five-year deal shortly after the season ended. Best of all, Upton is now batting behind Mike Trout in the order, so his third career 100-RBI season could be in the cards.
The 2016 campaign was a tale of two seasons for Upton. From April through July, he hit .239/.294/.405 with 13 homers, 50 runs and 46 RBI in just over 400 plate appearances. Upton then went on to hit .258/.341/.584 the rest of the season with 18 homers, 31 runs and 41 RBI in just over 200 plate appearances. Overall, it was Upton's best home-run total since 2011 and his numbers were mostly in line with where they have been in seasons past, save his on-base percentage. A career-low .310 OBP cut into his stolen-base opportunities and some of that was due to the early struggles as well as a career-worst walk rate of just eight percent. He turns 30 this year, so the power should stay while the steals may be gone. Upton needs to make more contact to get back to helping with average, otherwise, he's a decent three-category player with more name value than real value.
Upton went to his first All-Star game in four years as a move to San Diego hardly put a damper in his production. He hit 26 home runs to post his third-straight 25-homer season and came just one steal away from his third career 20-20 season. But Upton also reached 150 strikeouts for the third straight year, and his .251 batting average was a career low. Upton’s best season remains his 2011 campaign, when he hit a blistering .289/.369/.529 and mashed 31 home runs for the Diamondbacks. Between San Diego and Atlanta, Upton played in two of the most difficult parks for right-handed pull power hitters. He's stuck in another pitcher's park long-term after signing a six-year deal with Detroit in the offseason, but the talent around him is significantly better than it was at his last few stops, so the run and RBI totals could tick up.
Most owners didn't profit much from Upton's production in 2014, but they got their money's worth. He supplied 29 homers (.221 ISO), good enough for fourth in the NL, and drove in a career-high 101 runs while slightly improving his average and matching his stolen base total from 2013. The 27-year-old also set a less distinguished career high with 171 strikeouts (26.7% K%), matching his brother's number and joining him in the Braves' record books for most strikeouts in a single season. Upton walked less (9.4% BB% from 11.7%) and finished with a .169/.233/.325 batting line in September, but he's a proven fantasy commodity at this point and should garner significant interest on draft day yet again. His move to Petco Park after an offseason trade to the Padres figures to result in a downgrade in power production for Upton (17.9% HR/FB with Atlanta), but his presence in the middle an improved lineup should help his counting stats.
Upton's first month in a Braves uniform was the stuff of legends, as he clubbed a whopping 12 home runs in April and appeared to be headed for a career year. Over the next three months of the season, however, Upton managed just four home runs. He got hot again in August, and finished with a team-leading 27 big flies, but it was at times a frustrating season for his fantasy owners. After recording 18-plus steals in each of his previous four seasons, Upton attempted just nine steals in 2013, as manager Fredi Gonzalez played it safe on the basepaths, and his strikeout rate jumped dramatically from 19.3 percent to 25.0 percent. By no means was it a terrible year for Upton, but he didn't live up to his price tag, and his 17.9 percent HR/FB rate is likely unsustainable. Moreover, a rebound in batting average is not necessarily a lock, as his BABIP was still above .320.
When Upton injured his left thumb sliding into second base in April, most fantasy owners probably figured he would quickly recover from the seemingly minor ailment and promptly return to elite status. Instead, the injury seemed to bother him throughout the season, despite the fact that he was able play in 150 games. The .430 slugging percentage Upton delivered was the lowest of his four seasons in the big leagues, but he still managed to get on base at a good clip (.355) while picking up 18 steals. His numbers after the All-Star break (.817 OPS, 10 of his 17 homers) and more specifically, in September (.301/.354/.544 with six homers and four steals) suggest that he started to feel better as the season progressed. For the second straight offseason, trade rumors swirled around Upton, but he's still just 25 years old and the underlying skills here still suggest 30-homer and 20-steal potential with his return to health.
Upton put all of the pieces together and stayed healthy enough to play 159 games last season. The result was the breakout campaign many had tabbed Upton for following his age-21 season, as he delivered career-highs in every standard rotisserie category other than batting average. Further, Upton eased concerns about the shoulder injury that slowed him in 2010 with the heavy workload while showing considerable skills growth in the form of a 10 percent improvement in his contact rate (79 percent). Thanks to a fast-track path to the big leagues as a 19-year-old in 2007, Upton is now 24 with over 2,000 career at-bats. He slugged .561 after the All-Star break on the strength of 16 homers over 244 at-bats and if he's able to maintain that level of power over a full season, we could be looking at 40-plus homers in 2012.
Upton's health undoubtedly played a role in his regression last season, as he fell from 26 to 17 homers despite playing in just five fewer games than he did in 2009. New general manager Kevin Towers was willing to listen to trade offers for the young right fielder during the offseason, but nothing materialized. In addition to the lost power, Upton's contact rate dipped to 69 percent even though his walk rate improved to 11 percent. He opted for rehab during the offseason rather than surgery, so all signs point to 100 percent health at the start of spring training. Don't lose sight of the fact that Upton will still be just 23 when Opening Day rolls around in April, so there's still a great deal of growth potential even after he's racked up 1,517 career big league at-bats.
There were plenty of things that went wrong for the D-Backs in 2009, but Upton was one of the few bright spots last season as he produced at elite levels despite turning just 22 years old in August. After striking out in nearly one-third of his at-bats as a rookie, Upton significantly improved his contact rate from 66 to 74 percent while increasing his power output to swat 26 homers. Touted as a complete five-tool prospect upon being drafted first overall in 2005, Upton didn't disappoint, flashing good speed on the basepaths (20 steals) and checking in as one of the league's better defensive right fielders. He should only continue to get better, with the potential for more power and better overall production ahead if his selectivity at the plate continues to improve.
Considering that he spent most of his first full season in Arizona as a 20-year-old, we're willing to give Upton a pass for his inconsistent production. After an impressive start in April (.340/.385/.577, five homers and 15 RBI), Upton slumped badly before an oblique injury knocked him out of the lineup for most of July and August. Upton raked at Chase Field with a .321/.407/.632 line along with 12 homers and 32 RBI, but struggled tremendously on the road with a .169/.291/.271 line with three homers and 10 RBI. Overall, Upton demonstrated the ability to draw plenty of walks and get on base at a good clip (.353) despite struggling to make contact while adjusting to major league pitching. We'd also be surprised if he doesn't become more active on the basepaths in 2009, as he already boasts 20-steal speed and the D-Backs are expected to emphasize the running game. Don't be scared off by the disappointing overall numbers, as there's still a ton to like here as he continues to fulfill is potential.
Upton's teammate Orlando Hudson may have said it best when he nicknamed the 19-year-old phenom "The Franchise" and proceeded to say that Upton has 10 tools instead of the standard five. His numbers across High-A, Double-A and the majors last season are outstanding given his age, while the long-term upside here is simply: superstar. By all indications, he'll be the everyday right fielder and should be an immediate 20-20 threat, as a 20-year-old. Upton is an elite talent, so don't be shy about bidding the extra dollar or nabbing him a round early on draft day.
Upton is one of the 10 best prospects in the game, and already in the outfield, so he'll avoid some of the issues that have hampered his brother's development. He has superstar, Griffey-level talent, and if you're in a position to get him in keeper leagues, run, don't walk.
The Diamondbacks took Upton, a supremely talented five-tool player, with the first overall pick in the 2005 draft. Arizona will likely start Upton out at shortstop in a short-season league in 2006 before determining if he or Stephen Drew will change positions in the long term.
More Fantasy News
Set to return Tuesday
OFLos Angeles Angels
March 17, 2019
Upton (knee) is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut Tuesday against the Rockies, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reports.
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Not included in big-league lineup
OFLos Angeles Angels
March 16, 2019
Upton (knee) is out of the lineup for Saturday's exhibition against the Indians.
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Hitting again in minors game
OFLos Angeles Angels
March 15, 2019
Upton (knee) will serve as the designated hitter in a minor-league game Friday, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports.
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To DH in B game
OFLos Angeles Angels
March 14, 2019
Upton (knee tendinitis) will play in a minor-league game Thursday as the designated hitter, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reports.
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Still out with knee tendinitis
OFLos Angeles Angels
March 14, 2019
Upton (knee tendinitis) remains out of the lineup Thursday against the Brewers, Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register reports.
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