Toronto Blue Jays: Feeling Down on Melvin Upton Jr.

 

Despite being given ample opportunity to make his presence on the Toronto Blue Jays known, Melvin Upton Jr continues to come up lame at the plate

 

 

 

Melvin Upton Jr. can defend the outfield and run the bases with the best of them; he just can’t hit very well. At least, that’s the story of Upton Jr. since joining the Toronto Blue Jays on July 26.

 

Heading into Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the New York Yankees, Upton Jr. has yet to homer or hit for extra bases with Toronto, and his offensive contributions have been woefully limited to three runs, two RBI, and three stolen bases (five attempts) in 62 plate appearances.

 

This makes for a poor contrast against the 16 home runs, 46 runs, 45 RBI, and 20 stolen (25 attempts) in 374 plate appearances that he amassed for the San Diego Padres during the first half of the season. Add to this the fact he was hitting .66 points higher for the Padres and reaching base at a clip .78 points higher than now, and you can begin to understand why Upton Jr. has quickly collected his fair share of detractors in Jays Land.

 

He’s been an offensive bust to date – there’s no other way to put it. It hasn’t been for a lack of opportunity either.

 

Whether Upton Jr. was originally acquired to serve as a fourth outfielder or to platoon with Jose Bautista in right field, circumstances have pushed him into the spotlight. With Kevin Pillar and Bautista both finding themselves on the DL at the same time, Upton Jr. has been handed the everyday duties in centre field. He’s likely to continue playing on an everyday basis, too, once Bautista returns. The unreliable nature of the aging slugger’s body may have finally forced him into the DH spot, leaving Upton Jr. to patrol right field alone.

 

Of course, the Blue Jays aren’t dependent on high offensive production from Upton Jr., but they need him to avoid easy outs and help flip the batting order over so that Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, and Bautista can do their thing. It hasn’t worked out like this so far, and there are few signs of it working out any time soon. Upton Jr. is currently tied for ninth in strikeouts (129) across all of baseball, which is probably how most Blue Jay fans know him best anyway: the guy who comes spinning back to the dugout after every at-bat.

 

There remains a lot to like in Upton Jr., but until he figures things out at the plate, it’s hard not to feel down on the guy. The opportunity is there for him to reverse this impression; he just needs to seize it. I suggest laying off some of those outside pitches.

 

 

 

 

 

*Featured Image Credit: Bart Hanlon – UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

 

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