After graduating from high school in 2005, Justin Upton learned that he was the number one pick in the baseball draft, selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had all the skills. He could hit, run, and throw.  He spent his first year performing well in single A ball. In 2007, he started in AA ball. In August of 2007 the Diamondbacks promoted him to the majors.  He found himself starting at the age of 19. Despite hitting only .221 that season the Diamondbacks made the playoffs and he did hit .357, showing his potential.

In 2008 he started the season in right field for the Diamondbacks as the youngest player in the big leagues. In six seasons with the Diamondbacks, he showed great potential followed by offsetting slumps. He did hit .300 one year and had a high of 31 home runs in 2011. The most RBIs he had was 88. He averaged 130 strikeouts a year. His performance never rose to the superstar level that the Diamondbacks expected. They traded him in 2013 for 5 players.

Don’t worry. He has potential.

This was followed by tours with three different teams in 5 years. He played for the Braves, Padres, and Tigers. His home runs consistently stayed between 26 and 31 per year. In his final year with the Diamondbacks he hit .280. He did not hit that high in the next five years, dropping to a low of .246 in 2016 with the Tigers.

Don’t worry. He has potential.


At the start of 2016, Upton signed a six-year contract for $22 million a year. Total: $132 million. For two years, his performance was consistent with other years. He would go through brief hot streaks followed by long slumps. He hit 31 and 28 home runs but his batting average was only .246 and .279. His strikeouts rose to an average of 160 per year, so the numbers grew in at least one category.

Don’t worry. He has potential.

2017 was Upton’s best season. He was hitting .287 with 28 home runs and 94 RBIs by August. The Tigers used that season to trade him and his contract to the Angels where he hit 7 more home runs, and knocked in 15 more RBIs before the year ended. That brought his RBIs for the season over 100 for the only the second time in his life.

Inspired by this performance, (the potential!) the Angels stepped in and increased Upton’s already expensive salary. They decided to offer him a new 5-year $108 million contract. At the time of the contract Upton was 31. He had hit over 30 home runs only twice in his career and had not hit .280 in over 5 years. The Angles would have to pay him until he was 36.

Don’t worry. He has potential.


In 2018 Upton hit 30 home runs with 85 RBIs and batted .257 with 176 strikeouts.

In 2019 he only played in 63 games and his batting average dropped to .215 with only 12 home runs.

In the shortened 2020 season his batting average dropped to .204. with 9 home runs.

The results of the five-year contract have been very bad so far and the trend in batting average, lower home runs and increased strikeouts does not look good at all. For seven consecutive years Upton’s strikeout percentage has always been at or above 24%. We are told that a 22% strikeout rate isn’t good and 25% is poor. Upton’s strikeout rate was below 22% in only 2 years of his career (2011 and 2012). The next two years are not looking good for Upton or the Angels.



1st Year
2nd Year
3rd Year
4th Year
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    • Team: Los Angeles Angels
    • Contract Info: $108 MILLION
    • Years Played: 4
    • Seasonal Average
    • AVERAGE: .231
    • HRs: 17
    • RBIs: 47
    • Runs: 45