Going 0 for 6 is not the way Justin Upton was hoping to start Spring Training with the Atlanta Braves. Of course, no one wants to start the new season out by failing to reach base in their first six attempts, but especially not a player who was the marque name in a blockbuster trade during the off-season.
This is probably why Upton seemed so relieved when he went 2 for 3 during Monday’s Grapefruit League game between the Braves and the Miami Marlins. The best part was a huge home run that reminded everyone of what type of player he had been predicted to be when he first came on the scene.
Upton is coming off of a weak outing, having only batted for .280 in 2012, with just 17 home runs. The numbers are enough to possibly cause Upton to slip in some Fantasy Baseball drafts, but the promise of a fresh start should keep owners interested.
Upton finished last season ranked 58th overall in 2012, but you can expect him to be a top 20 player this season, possibly even a top 10. He is playing for a better team this year, and that will help boost his numbers.
The fresh start in a new place takes away some of the pressure he felt as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks and adds a new type of pressure, one that most players of his caliber look forward to. It is the challenge of being the big name brought in to take the team to the next level, and it is a challenge Upton will attack wholeheartedly.
He is coming into this season healthy after having had hand issues over the last year or so, and as a bonus, he gets to play with his older brother B.J. Upton. If nothing else, knowing his older brother is there to ring his bell whenever he screws up should add a bit of production from him in all phases of the game.
It all ads up to an owner being able to draft Upton with confidence.