You can see it happening right before your eyes. The maturity level is at an all-time high. The game winning hits, the leadership, the commitment to playing the game the right way. It’s all happening right now for the Diamondbacks 23-year-old right fielder Justin Upton.
Upton’s heroics in the 10th inning last night – a one-out opposite field solo home run – not only allowed the Diamondbacks to salvage the final game of a thee-game series with the San Francisco Giants but it also gave Arizona confidence that they can contend with the defending World Series Champs.
As it was pointed out on the television broadcast last night, Upton has been on a tear lately. In his last 18 games he is hitting .429 with 7 doubles, 3 triples and 3 home runs. He has taken his game to a new level at just the right time.
And last night wasn’t the only game-winning hit for the former first overall pick. He had a bloop single to beat Florida in walk off style on June 1st. He broke a tie with an 8th inning home run in Colorado last month that propelled Arizona to a 4-3 victory, then two days later drove in the winning run in the 11th to beat the Rockies with a single. On May 18th he drove in Ryan Roberts with a ground ball to the right side to give Arizona a 5-4 win in the 11th inning against Atlanta.
So Upton is not only on a tear, he seems to have a knack for the dramatic. And isn’t this what we expected of him when he got to the big leagues? Upton has too much talent to be a good baseball player. He needs to be great. Last year Upton was average and it was unacceptable to the organization which floated his name as trade bait this off-season.
The Diamondbacks have surrounded Upton with quality veteran players like Willie Bloomquist, Melvin Mora, Henry Blanco and Xavier Nady and I’m sure that has had a positive effect on him. Winning also helps as it was obvious that the constant losing took its toll on the right fielder.
Upton has his average up to .291 with 12 homers and 35 runs batted in. He could hit 30 home runs this year and drive in 90 runs. And if he keeps coming through in the clutch, he could lead Arizona to the playoffs.