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.