There's little upside in drafting Justin Upton at this point, but you know what you're getting. The 30-year-old has been extremely durable throughout his career, totaling at least 620 plate appearances in each of the last seven seasons, and the fluctuation in that time in terms of quality of performance has been marginal. His strikeout rate has been elevated over 28 percent in each of the past two seasons, and indeed the batting average seems destined to fall back (.341 BABIP, .244 xBA), but it shouldn't fall off a cliff as Upton has been hitting the ball harder and he boosted his walk rate back up to over 11 percent in 2017. The flyball rate has been stable, and he ran more after the move to Anaheim at the waiver trade deadline, which bodes well as he re-upped with the Angels on a five-year deal shortly after the season ended. Best of all, Upton is now batting behind Mike Trout in the order, so his third career 100-RBI season could be in the cards.
Upton has gone 3-for-7 with a home run and four RBI this spring. Fresh off a five-year contract extension, Upton will look to pick up where he left off last season when he set new career highs in homers (35) and RBI (109) while batting .273 over 557 at-bats. Players don't usually peak once they turn 30 years old, but it also isn't out of the ordinary, especially when we are talking about a player that has flashed the skills of a superstar over his 11-year career. The Angels' lineup is looking as potent as it has since Mike Trout's star was born, so Upton has a good shot at eclipsing the 100-RBI mark for just the third time in his career.
Upton and the Angels agreed to a five-year contract Thursday, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. Upton's new deal will net the outfielder $106 million over the next five years, after the Angels added $17.5 million and one year from his existing contract. This will keep Upton in Los Angeles through the 2022 season, which will make him 35 years old the following offseason. Over the course of this past year between Detroit and the Angels, Upton slashed .273/.361/.540 with career highs of 35 home runs and 109 RBI.
Upton is not in the starting nine for Thursday's game against the White Sox, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. With the Angels' elimination from the playoffs, manager Mike Scioscia elected to give a bunch of regulars the day off, so Upton will occupy a seat on the bench for the series finale. Ben Revere will draw the start in left field in his stead.
Upton went 2-for-4 with a pair of solo homers Saturday against the Astros. Upton smashed his 33rd and 34th homers to tally the only runs for the Angels in a road defeat. He's hit six home runs over his last 10 games, and he's been an outstanding fantasy option at the most important time of the season.
Upton went 1-for-4 with his 32nd home run of the season Tuesday against the Indians. Upton is heating up at the right time for his owners who are in the fantasy playoffs, delivering four homers over his last six games. The veteran slugger hasn't slowed up since joining the Angels, setting new career highs in doubles (42), home runs (32) and RBI (104).