After a solid first full year with the Angels (.257 AVG, 30 HR, 85 RBI, and 3.1 fWAR), Angel fans were glad that they finally had a solid left fielder.
From the disappointing Josh Hamilton contract to the various left field “platoon” experiments, Upton’s 2018 season seemed to solidify the Angels’ long-standing LF problem.
Unfortunately, the 2019 season was not as successful for Upton. After being sidelined for the first few months of the season due to a turf toe injury in spring training, Upton slashed for a .215 AVG, 12 HR, 40 RBI, and -0.2 fWAR in 63 games.
Does this mean Justin Upton is on the decline going into his mid-thirties? I disagree. Over the past decade, Justin Upton has been one of the more reliable outfielders in baseball.
Since 2009, Upton has played for five different teams, been a four-time all-star, and averaged 3.3 fWAR in eleven seasons (including the 2019 season).
To give a few relevant examples of 3 WAR outfielder seasons, Tommy Pham (3.3 fWAR), Joey Gallo (3.3 fWAR), and future Angel (hopefully?) Joc Pederson (3.0 fWAR) all had solid 3+ fWAR seasons in 2019. Of course, Upton (32) isn’t getting any younger, but he still has some good years left in him. For the 2020 season, Fangraphs currently has Upton projected to be between 1.6-1.7 fWAR.
However, the already powerful Angels offense now boasts NL MVP bronze winner 3B Anthony Rendon in their lineup. And if health is on their side, the Angels will also get full years of Shohei Ohtani and Andrelton Simmons.
These mainstays in the lineup allow Upton to put less pressure on himself and will give him more chances to make an impact in the lineup.
The 2020 season will be an exciting one for the Angels.
As for Upton, he’ll look to help them make the postseason, and prove his doubters wrong.