All eyes are on former D-backs outfielder Justin Upton, who is off to a scorching hot start in Atlanta.
Upton has hit .353 with a major league-leading six home runs and nine RBI in nine games for the Braves. He’s also ranked first in the National League with a .971 slugging percentage and a 1.365 OPS.
ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns & Gambo on Thursday he didn’t think Upton would have achieved the same success in Arizona that he has thus far in Atlanta.
D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall echoed those sentiments to Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf later Thursday afternoon, saying while he’s happy for Upton’s quick success he does think the environment change has been a factor in his fast start.
“I would agree that ‘would he have had the same success here that he’s had [in Atlanta] to start off the season, maybe not’ sometimes players need a change of scenery for it to happen,” Hall said. “He’s playing with his brother, there’s that little competitive fuel between the two of them. They push each other. He’s surrounded in a lineup where there’s a home run threat all around him so that makes pitching to him a little bit more difficult.”
Hall said that while Upton may have found his ideal fit in Atlanta, the D-backs have also gotten exactly what they were seeking for their team when they decided to trade their franchise star.
“I think it’s a situation where it was a perfect situation for him actually and for us we got what we needed,” Hall stated. “I mean this was just two different teams that had two different needs and it worked out well for both, not to mention we still have four prospects that we’re going to be dealing with in the next few years.”
When the D-backs dealt Upton they said they were changing the culture and philosophy of the team. They were searching for a new identity, one in which they would no longer be built around one star but instead put together a team of gritty players who scratch and claw for wins night in and night out.
Hall said the cornerstone of the trade for the D-backs was third baseman Martin Prado, who the Braves reluctantly included in the deal. The D-backs’ president said Prado has been everything the team has hoped for and more, both on and off the field.
“When you look at your team, you analyze your team like we have the last couple years, we were looking for some missing ingredients ala Martin Prado,” Hall explained. “And maybe the only way you can get him is to move a Justin Upton.”
And while Hall knew the risk involved with trading a young player still in the prime years of his career, going as far as to say he understands the perception around the league that the D-backs were crazy to let him go, he’s still more than satisfied with their return.
“I think it was a good move for [Upton],” Hall said. “In the meantime, we’ll appreciate the production that we’re seeing from Martin Prado and the effect he’s had on his teammates because he’s a wonderful player and he’s a great teammate and we like the prospects we got too. So I think this is one of those trades that is going to work out very well for both teams. It has so far.”