Justin Upton: Rakes in the leadoff spot with back-to-back homers
By Evan Desai
LA Angels outfielder Justin Upton seems to really love hitting leadoff.
Justin Upton batted leadoff in three straight games for the LA Angels from May 23rd through May 26th, and he was 5 for 14 in those three games.
The best part is that, he didn’t just get his hits, but he hit leadoff home runs in each of those last two games.
Brent Maguire of the ‘Locked on Angels’ podcast isn’t alone. Upton had never hit leadoff until the first time Joe Maddon penciled him in there this season.
It’s a brilliant way to try to get a player out of a slump. When a player who has been an All-Star four times, and a Silver Slugger three times struggles, getting him the most possible at-bats gives him the best chance to work his way out of that slump as early as possible.
Even before Upton hit the second leadoff home run, the Angels flexed their muscles on those who criticized the move.
Upton doesn’t have typical leadoff hitter speed, but when someone’s producing the way Upton has when he’s been in the leadoff spot, nobody can complain.
The craziest part wasn’t just that Upton performed so well, but it’s that Upton made history with the back-to-back leadoff homers.
It was rookie Trout in 2012 who last did it. There are only three players other than Trout and Upton who have done it for the Halos.
Entering the first game Upton batted leadoff, he was hitting .188/.271/.391. He raised his line to .204/.277/.430. He now has a very nice 10 homers on the season, and is now on pace for about 33 by the season’s end.
We may not know if Upton’s completely back just yet, but he certainly found his rhythm in his first three games as a leadoff hitter, and may see a lot more time there.