Who’s going as bad as the Braves? Ex-Brave Justin Upton

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer, right, celebrates with catcher Wilson Ramos after an interleague baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Nationals Park, Wednesday, May 11, 2016, in Washington. Scherzer struck out 20 batters tying the major league nine-inning record. The Nationals won 3-2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Throwing with Max effort, you’d have to say. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington’s Max Scherzer struck out 20 batters Wednesday night, tying the major-league record. (Earlier members of Club 20K are Roger Clemens, who did it twice; Kerry Wood, whose famous flurry of strikeouts has been characterized as the greatest game ever pitched, and Randy Johnson, who did a lot of amazing stuff.)

For Scherzer, Whiff No. 20 came at the expense of Justin Upton, who has done little except whiff since signing with Detroit for $132.75 million over six years. (There’s a opt-out involved, but the way he’s going, J-Up isn’t opting out of anything.) Upton also supplied the third of Scherzer’s 20 strikeouts, and the wonder was that he managed a double — snapping an 0-for-19 streak — and went 1-for-4.

Upton has long been a flailer — he has struck out at least 121 times in each of his seven full big-league seasons — but never like this. Over 33 games, he has K’ed 53 times. Over 162 games, that would translate to 260 strikeouts. Yes, that would be a record. The current standard (word used advisedly) is 223 by Mark Reynolds, set in 2009. Upton’s previous worst was his 171 strikeouts in 2014, his farewell season as an Atlanta Brave.

Just as Jason Heyward — once a Brave and Upton’s outfield mate, as I’m sure you recall — is struggling after signing his even-more-massive contract with the Cubs, Upton has appeared nothing like himself as a Tiger. We all know he’s streaky. To date, his season has been one awful streak. He has two homers and nine RBIs. In April 2013, his first month as a Brave, he had 12 homers and 19 RBIs.

Upton has walked only seven times, four of those coming in two games against Texas over the weekend. His on-base percentage is .259, placing him 180th among the 194 qualifying MLB hitters. He’s 181st in OPS. His WAR value is minus-0.4.

I don’t mean this as any form of gloating. I like Justin Upton a lot. We used to talk about the blue glove he’d wear when shagging balls in batting practice. I thought it stylish. “It’s hideous,” he would say, which I guess is why he didn’t use it in a game. But his is just another chapter — Heyward’s is another — in “The Perils of Signing a Big-Ticket Free Agent.”

There was absolutely no reason to think Upton wouldn’t hit anywhere he went. Since landing in Detroit, he has mostly missed.

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Reader Comments 0


I'm not happy with the way things are going for the Braves...now, like a lot of fans. I see the potential for the future, but management should stop peeing on the fan's boots and telling them it's raining. This may be the most pathetic lineup of baseball talent ever assembled. I'm not aware of a single prospect in the minor leagues that is a power hitter, at least not one that may develop in the next 2-3 years. The pitching staff should be good for a long time .........unless McDowell sends all them for TJ surgery.


The only ex-Brave I care about is Oso Blanco and he's playing in AA minor league. Now would be a good time to get him back even if it is in the minor leagues.


Who cares Bradley, ,they no longer play for the Braves!!

Get fresh material and earn those AJC/UGA paychecks..

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

Yea usual AJC writing at its best right there. Let's not bring attention to our team let's point at the struggles of somebody else. Don't you dare go after this ownership group that doesn't care, the front office that Pat's themselves on the back for 14 straight division titles and 1995, don't dare get on the worst manager in baseballs case because you know what Justin Upton strikes out alot.


Previously from Bradley concerning the Uptons & Heyward (when he was kissing Wren's rear instead of Coppy's):

"The Atlanta Braves just became the most talented team in the National League East and maybe the entire National League..."

"You’d rather have talent than not have it, and there’s no more gifted outfield in the National League than the one the Braves will field in 2013."

"Applause is due Wren....He has given a team already good a chance to get bigger and better, and he traded for Justin Upton without strip-mining the farm system."


"Assuming a full season of Strasburg (no innings cap this time), the Nationals look capable of winning 100 games. The Braves might win 101. They’ve seen and raised Washington, importing not one but two Uptons, and we could keep the hot stove burning long into the night as we ask: Which outfield looks better – Upton, Upton and Heyward or Harper, Span and Werth?"


That was when Bradley preferred "The Giddiness of Signing Big-Ticket Free Agents".....Where he will be on all this in another 2-3 years is anyone's guess.



Good research.

The truth never lies. In this case, anyway.


Case in point - Dan Uggla. He was great in Miami and no reason to anticipate a decline in productivity. Well, we all know how that ended here in ATL. Seems the best route is a strong farm system.