Justin Upton Already Paying Huge Dividends for Atlanta Braves

Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

In January, the cries could be heard from Atlanta Braves fans echoing from Atlanta to Macon and from Greenville to Birmingham…

“Why would the Braves trade Martin Prado!?”

Prado had been a staple of the Braves lineup since 2006, and had done everything the club had ever asked of him, and played every position they could possibly stick him in–and did it well.

Gritty is the word most often heard to describe Prado. A guy not blessed with the natural talents of a Chipper Jones, but who was always willing to work ten times as hard to make it look just as easy.

When the Braves went out an acquired Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Prado was one of the asking prices. The Braves, who had been under some pressure to make changes and shake things up, felt it was a fair enough considering what they could possibly be getting in Upton.

Fast forward to April.

Five games, five home runs, seven RBI, and more good vibes for Justin Upton than you can shake a Beach Boys album at.

I’m not even getting into the whole “he’s on pace for…” because those arguments rarely (if ever) actually pan out to becoming a realistic number. But the guy is making GM Frank Wren look like a genius at the moment.

Upton has looked much like his 2009 and 2011 All-Star-self so far in a Braves uniform. He looks steady as a rock at the plate and has been patrolling the outfield at Turner Field like he’s been there his entire career. He’s not making anyone forget about Prado, but he’s certainly doing a great job of distracting the attention.

The Braves are 4-1 after those first five games, taking two out of three from the Philadelphia Phillies and trying for a three game sweep of the Chicago Cubs. After five games in 2012, Atlanta was sitting at 1-4 and had only scored 16 runs in all five games, (for the record, they scored 16 in their first two games of 2013).

It’s a long season, and just as last year, there will be ups and downs, but Justin Upton is doing his part to keep anxiety levels under control for right now.

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Michael Collins is a Rant Sports Senior Writer, and Atlanta sports columnist. Follow him @GaSportsCraze on Twitter and here on Facebook

 

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