Why Justin Upton will Win NL MVP
In the 2012/2013 MLB off-season, a lot of rumors were swirling around the Arizona Diamondbacks and their young 25 year old phenom Justin Upton. Upton was in the middle of all sorts of trade rumors during the 2012 season and was also bothered by a nagging thumb injury in which he sustained in the 3rd game of the Diamondbacks season in 2012. Upton has always been regarded as a huge talent and one that will succeed once he gets consistent playing time and reaches his full potential. Upton’s first few years of his career with the Diamondbacks was truly a roller coaster of a ride. In his first full season with the team, in 138 games in 2009, Upton swatted 26 home runs, 86 RBI, hit for a .300 average, and swiped 20 bases. High hopes after last season brought huge expectations on to Upton going into 2010. He did not deliver as the Diamondbacks and MLB fans around the world thought. In 2010, Upton had 17 home runs, 69 RBI, .273 average, and stole 18 bases. Not horrible, but still not what people expected. In 2011, Upton would show once again why he is such a dominant force. Upton hit 31 home runs, 88 RBI, .289 average, and stole 21 bases. Again, what do people expect in 2012? More expectations and more pressure on Upton to match that. He finished 2011 4th in NL MVP voting. In 2012, as we mentioned, with a bummed thumb, and constant trade rumors swirling, Upton struggled. Much like is 2010 season, he put up very similar numbers, hitting 17 home runs, 67 RBI, .280 average, and stole 18 bases. Now you understand what we mean by roller coaster seasons. Up and down.
Here comes the 2012/2013 off-season. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers once again had trade rumors swirling about Upton and the rumors were finally put to an end on January 24th, 2013. The package sent Upton and 3rd basemen Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, Zeke Spruill, and Brandon Drury. The long awaited trade of Upton had happened. When looking at this trade after it happened, personally, I viewed it pretty good for both sides. The Braves got a young superstar in Upton and a solid power bat in Johnson. The D-Backs got versatile Martin Prado, who is extremely underrated, Randall Delgado who just couldn’t break through with the Braves, a shortstop prospect in Ahmed, and pitching prospect Spruill, and a first basement in Drury. The Diamondbacks traded a future star for depth and the Braves traded potential superstars to get a win now type player who the Braves can build around for years to come.
Bringing in a personal story of mine, after Upton was traded to the Braves, I sought him in a fantasy keeper league with friends of mine from Brock University’s Sport Management program. I landed Upton in a trade which I had to do some justifications for. I traded Matt Kemp and Miguel Montero for Upton and Carlos Santana. Some viewed it as an even trade, or a win for the guy who landed Kemp. Nobody really had the trade in my favor but deep down, I had a feeling Upton would be right at home in Atlanta and be a candidate for NL MVP. When I made the trade I had a few main reasons for it, which are also why I think Justin Upton will win the NL MVP at seasons end.
Reason 1: Feels Right at Home
In a recent article with Ken Rosenthal, Upton told Ken, that during his last season in Arizona, he always had to worry about being traded and was never able to escape that fact. Upton was never able to settle in and focus on baseball and baseball only. Now in Atlanta, Upton had told Ken that he feels a part of the organization and can once again focus on just baseball. He is also playing alongside his brother, who the Braves also brought in this off-season, B.J. Upton. Justin feels comfortable in Atlanta and is ready to show his full potential, something he has already done through April.
Reason 2: Youth and Experience
Upton is still a kid. Currently, he is only 25 years old and has show everyone across baseball what he can do. During his roller coaster seasons in Arizona, he showed he can hit for power, hit for average, play great defense, is patient at the plate and he can run. He has all of the skills to be the most dynamic player in the game. Given the fact he is only 25 years old, these career numbers for Upton are pretty amazing: .278 average, 119 home runs, 379 RBI, and an OBP of .358. For a guy who is only 25, and turning 26 in August, it is pretty clear the guy is talented. He is still youthful, and has an outstanding amount of experience.
Reason 3: Not Just Justin
In Arizona, Justin Upton was the guy. He was the player every opposing pitcher knew that you didn’t want to make a mistake to or let him beat you. Upton was surrounded by good players in Arizona like Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt, and Aaron Hill. In Atlanta, there’s a lot more to worry about than just Justin. They have Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Evan Gattis, B.J Upton, and Andrelton Simmons. I’m not ripping on Arizona by any means, but the talent that Justin Upton is surrounded by here, is young and dangerous. You can’t just worry about Justin in Atlanta, or you’re going to be beat. Or if you do just worry about Upton and do everything to try and get him out, he will beat you, as shown through this month.
Reason 4: World Series Contenders
Through April, the Braves have already shown that they should be considered front-runners for the World Series. They’re not just talented on offense, but have an outstanding pitching rotation, which will only get better once Brandon Beachy returns from the DL, but they also have arguably, the best bullpen in the major leagues, led by the best closer in the game, Craig Kimbrel. A lot of the talent the Braves have groomed is young and blossoming. They have groomed them right and have them prepared for a long season, running deep into October. Justin Upton fits in like a puzzle piece, yet another reason he feels like he is at home in Atlanta.
These four reasons are why I think Justin Upton will win the NL MVP. I know I may draw some criticism for writing about this not even through April yet, but Upton has been the best baseball player on the planet thus far. A lot of things can happen from here on it, maybe Upton gets hurt, maybe he goes on a cold spell, who knows what could happen. What is known, however, is how good he is. Justin Upton to date (April 27th, 2013) has 11 home runs, 16 RBI, a .305 average, and an OBP of .389. None of these non-advanced statistics show me that Upton will slow down. You don’t need advanced statistics to break down Justin Upton. All you need to do is watch him play and you’ll see why I am writing this article as April comes to a close.
So, might I ask. Who wins this trade as of right now?
Team A: Matt Kemp, Miguel Montero
Team B: Justin Upton, Carlos Santana
Justin Upton will win NL MVP this season.