Angels baseball: Three hitters to watch in 2020

Tommy La Stella, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Tommy La Stella, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Angels, Justin Upton
Justin Upton, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Angels hitters to watch in 2020: Justin Upton

When the Angels convinced Justin Upton to not exercise his opt-out clause in 2017, they did no because they knew he could be a special piece of the lineup they built around Mike Trout. That’s why they had no problem giving him an extra year and $17.5 million, as well as a full no-trade clause.

Now in the third year of that five-year pact, the Angels aren’t quite sure what they have in Upton.

He was a three-win player in 2018, on the back of a .257/.344/.463 batting line, 30 home runs, 85 RBI, and a wRC+ of 123. However, Upton suffered through ongoing knee injuries in 2019, and ultimately regressed to a below league-average hitter last season.

Now with the addition of Anthony Rendon, Upton feels almost like a forgotten man in the Angels lineup. However, that may play in his favor.

In looking over Roster Resource’s projected lineup for the Halos, Upton figures to slide into the six-hole in the Angels batting order. That will take some pressure off of him a bit in 2020, with Upton no longer having to potentially replace a legend like Albert Pujols. That now falls on Rendon and Ohtani, with Upton being able to comfortably slide into a support role.

At 32-years-old, Upton isn’t likely to be the five-win player he was in 2017, but somewhere more in line with the two to three wins that he’s produced outside of his outlier seasons. The Angels will welcome a return to that level if possible.