Throughout Mike Trout‘s entire career with the LA Angels, left field has always had a hole in it. When the Halos traded for Justin Upton, that hole closed up real quick.
Even though he hasn’t been the best version of himself since joining the LA Angels, Justin Upton is still lightyears ahead of his competition to be the all-decade left fielder in Anaheim. Over the past few years, he gave the Angels a true trio of solid outfielders when he was healthy.
The Angels left fielders this decade include names like Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos (I considered him), Raul Ibanez, JB Shuck, Josh Hamilton (oh what could have been), and Matt Joyce. Those names make it obvious that Justin Upton is an easy choice for this recognition.
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In 2017, when the Angels were trying to make a playoff push at the end of the season, they swung deals for Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips. Phillips left in free agency that season, but Upton and the Angels were able to reach an extension to keep the four-time All Star in Anaheim for years and years to come.
In 2018, streakiness aside, Upton gave the Angels the best season from a left fielder (not named Mike Trout) of the decade. It gave the Angels the most imposing bat they’ve probably ever had to put behind Mike Trout (hello Anthony Rendon), and his 3.8 bWAR was third best on the Angels, and gave them a core four of Trout, Andrelton Simmons, Shohei Ohtani, and Upton.
We all know 2019 was sort of a lost season for Upton. Injuries hampered him mightily throughout, and he was never really able to find his rhythm. I’ve already noted as to why that doesn’t mean 2020 will be a bad season too, but even with the bad 2019 season Upton is the hands down all-decade left fielder.
The Angels spent the first eight years of the decade looking for an answer in left field. Time after time, they failed. While he isn’t an elite left fielder anymore, Justin Upton provided the end to the search, and offers hope going from this decade to the next.