Justin Upton Key Cog In Tigers Boom Or Bust Year
Both Justin Upton and the Detroit Tigers had a tough start to the 2016 campaign but finished strong. Upton, who can opt out of his contract at the end of the 2017 season, may have flown under the radar but was extremely productive from June 1st to the end of the season.
While many will remember his rough start or look at his overall slash line from last year, the smart play may be to draft him sooner rather than later. At the very least, he’s worth keeping an eye on and could be a surprise pick in the middle rounds of your league’s draft.
In early 2016, the Detroit Tigers reached a contract agreement with outfielder Justin Upton. The deal was valued at 6yr/$132.75MM and included a very valuable opt-out after the 2017 season. It also includes a twent-team no trade clause.
In the three seasons prior to signing his deal Upton had batted .262/.344/.470 and averaged 27 home runs per season. In his career he had .271/.352/.473 hitter with 190 home runs, all before his 28th birthday. The Tigers were banking that his superstar years’ lay ahead.
Much like the Tigers, Upton was a major disappointment through the first two months or so of the 2016 season. At the end of May, Upton found himself in the worst slump of his career batting .217/.264/.326 with just three home runs. He had struckout 72 times and drawn only three walks.
Tigers And Upton Turnaround Seasons
The Tigers were three games under .500 at 24-27 and five games behind the AL Central leading Kansas City Royals.
Slowly but surely Upton began to heat up finishing the rest of the season batting .259/.331/.531 with 28 home runs in 429 plate appearances.
From June 1st to the end of the season the Tigers finished with the fourth best record in the American League (62-48).
Overall Upton finished the year batting .246/.310/.465 with 31 homers and a wRC+ of 105. His strikeout rate (28.6-percent) was the second highest in his career (29-percent, 2009 Diamondbacks) and his walk rate (8-percent) was the second lowest of his career (7.2-percent, 2007 Diamondbacks).
Boom Or Bust?
Rumors flew this off-season that the Tigers were going to dismantle their club. General Manager Alex Avila did listen to a lot of offers but decided to stand pat. The team will be playing with extra emotion this season in tribute to long time owner Mike Illiltch who passed away earlier this year.
The Tigers, if they can get off to a good start, will have tough decisions to make over the course of the season. Do they add on to the roster in hopes of making the post-season again or do they move players and try to inject youth onto an aging roster.