Justin Upton had quite the up and down season last year for the LA Angels. On one hand, you look at his overall stat line, and see that he hit .211/.296/.409 (.705 OPS). On the other, you see that even in that nightmare of a season, he still hit bombs while he was out there--totaling 17 home runs when on the field last year (89 games).
You may even point to the fact that before he got hurt, he batted a solid .247/.336/.480 (.816 OPS) with 14 home runs and 40 runs in 63 games. But then again, you may also point to the fact that this is the third straight season where he was injured, and the reality is that he's an injury-prone player at this point in his career.
Many of you had no idea of what to expect from Upton this year, and I don't blame you. I do know some, though, who not only don't believe in him but don't see value in even having him here. That's the Angels' organization. Upton was just designated for assignment by the team, and we know what that means. ESPN's Jeff Passan broke it down here:
Upton already had no trade value due to his recent slew of injuries, and now looks about as undesirable as possible. Nobody's going to trade for him. So, somebody is going to get him for free after his release, and the Halos are going to pay for every penny of that $28 million check for 2022.
On Thursday's win against the Brewers, Justin Upton smoked two home runs--one being a grand slam for the LA Angels.
Justin Upton had six RBIs for the LA Angels in three at-bats on Thursday. It was Upton's way of keeping him on LA Angels fans' radars. Clearly, he was taking these spring at-bats seriously, and is currently locked in. In seven spring training games this year, Upton looked like a different beast. He hit .333/.474/.933 (1.407 OPS). While it's just spring training, those numbers are unheard of for ANYONE. The issue, however, was outlined by Angels General Manager Perry Minasian here:
Everyone knows that the Halos want to prioritize the development of young guns Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh in the outfield. And they raked in spring training too. Adell hit .273/.306/.636 (.942 OPS) this spring with three homers in 13 games. Marsh slashed .303/.324/.545 (.869 OPS) this spring, and his defense is already better than Upton's due to his speed. That will help on the base paths as well. Upton unfortunately does not have the 20+ steals speed he used to.
Upton slashed a .225/.355/.483 (.838 OPS) line against left-handed pitchers last year, so he was expected to take first base on days left-handers are on the bump. Unfortunately, this is the second year where the Halos have had to pay off one of their worst contracts in history while a veteran player they DFA does not play for the team. Last year, the Angels paid Albert Pujols $30 million to play for the Dodgers, and Anaheim will soon be paying Upton $28 million to play for a team to be determined later.