Entering the weekend, LA Angels outfielder Justin Upton’s batting average was sitting at .202.
It looked like it was only up from last year after Upton had a disappointing 2020, hitting .204 and getting on-base just 28.9% of the time.
That average was a career-low for Upton, and that on-base percentage was close to a career-low.
One thing about Upton last year was that he was still hitting the longball. Nine home runs in 42 games is impressive. That’s the equivalent of 34-35 home runs over the course of a full-season.
He’s still hitting the longball. He’s hit seven balls out of the park entering the weekend. However, he was also hitting .202.
His power being there shows that he’s still capable of hitting at a high-level. Despite being in the league for 15 years, Upton is just 33 years old. It wasn’t long ago where scouts used to look at Upton and include him among the league’s most talented players.
Major League ballplayers don’t just lose that type of talent. That’s the frustrating part. He still has it in him; he just hasn’t been able to bring it out of him since 2018. Since then, he’s battled injuries and struggled to hit for average.
It needs to turn around now. The LA Angels aren’t even a quarter of their way through the season yet, but they look lifeless. The vets on this team need to not only show up, but bring a different energy to get the clubhouse believing again.
It’s not an easy division in the AL West, but not overwhelming. There still is plenty of time for a turnaround.
If it’s going to happen, however, it needs to happen soon. If the Angels are going to get this thing going, Upton’s going to have to be a part of it.
The former number one overall pick has had a good career, but is more than capable of getting back to 2017 form, the last time he was an All-Star. That’s the player they wanted when acquiring him, and that’s not the type of player they had in 2019 and 2020.
Upton had walked just 11 times on the season entering the weekend. To get back to the All-Star caliber player he was and should still be, he needs to put an emphasis on seeing the ball. The hits may not come early, but if he can cut down on his 37 strikeouts he had entering the weekend and take more walks, his vision at the plate will certainly improve.
The MLB season is certainly not a sprint. Upton has time, but needs to act with a sense of urgency. He’s a big piece of this puzzle, and it needs to come around.