The Angels acquired Justin Upton in the middle of a playoff chase on August 31, 2017, in exchange for a pair of right handed pitchers to the Detroit Tigers.
Upton, made an immediate impact with the Angels in his first month slashing .245/.357/.531 while hitting 7 doubles, 7 home runs with 15 RBI and scoring 19 times in 27 games. Despite not making the postseason, he decided to opt-out of his contract and re-signed with the Angels to a 5 year deal worth $106MM.
When the Angels re-signed Justin Upton, that finally filled a hole that the Angels had struggled to fill since Josh Hamilton was traded to the Texas Rangers in 2015. Left Field had been a revolving door with 27 different players appearing at that position for the Halos in a 3 year span prior to acquisition of Justin Upton. Upton, provided stability at the position in 2018, when he played in 140 games in LF. That is a lot of games for the Angels to have 1 player be in left field, the last time they had someone play over 100 games in LF was Vernon Wells in 2011, with 111 games at the position.
In what was Upton’s first full season with the Angels he posted what was one of the Angels best seasons from a left fielder in quite some time. Despite that there were two problems that Upton encountered in 2018, and one of those was facing left handed pitchers. Upton has proved he can hit lefties pretty well in his career, but last season he struggled mightily as he worked a slash line of .195/.273/.320. That is well below his career slash line against lefties which is .268/.368/.501.
The second thing he struggled with was hitting with RISP (Runners In Scoring Position) where he slashed .197/.289/.368. His career slash line with RISP is .257/.357/.458 and despite his struggles against lefties and hitting with RISP, he still led the team with 85 RBI. He still managed to put up good numbers while hitting 18 doubles, 1 triple, 30 home runs and slashed .257/.344/.463. Upton provided the Angels with one of their best power hitting seasons from a left fielder since Garret Anderson hit 29 homers in 2003. There are only two left fielders to have ever hit more home runs as a left fielder for the Angels than Justin Upton. Those two guys are Don Baylor who hit 36 in 1979 and Leon Wagner who hit 37 in 1962.
Justin Upton will be entering his age 31 season in 2019, and there should be some optimism that he will hit better in both of those categories next season.
Featured Image: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo