On Tuesday, June 19, the Seattle Mariners intentionally walked Aaron Hill to pitch to Upton with the bases loaded! It was the bottom of the fifth inning and the score was tied, 8-8. Upton promptly struck out and the Mariners went on to defeat the D-Backs, 12-9, in 10 innings.
Arizona hitters banged out 14 hits in the game. Upton didn't have a single one. He finished the game 0-for-5 with three strikeouts to knock his batting average down to .253. Moreover, he was the only Arizona starter other than pitcher Daniel Hudson not to get at least one hit. Six of his teammates had two.
If you haven't guessed by now, I own Upton in my Yahoo! fantasy baseball league. In fact, I was thrilled when I drafted him (the pick before him was Hanley Ramirez). I thought I lucked out. After all, the five-tools outfielder was coming off a breakout season in which he batted .289 with 31 home runs, 88 RBI and 21 stolen bases. All the counting stats were career highs. However, Upton looks lost at the plate and is on pace for a career-worst season with only five homers and 24 RBI.
What should a fantasy owner do?
I can tell you what I'm going to do -- I'm holding on to Upton. For starters, even if I wanted to trade him, his value is too low right now. Furthermore, he's a streaky hitter with the potential to go on a tear at any moment. Last June, he batted .382 with an OPS of 1.016. Critics may point out that his batting average declined in each of the next three months, but his on-base percentage never dipped below .342 in any of those months. Plus, he hit for power with 18 homers from July-September.
Unless he's hiding an injury, I believe Upton will start hitting soon (over his career, he's a better hitter after the All-Star break). In fact, if you don't own Upton, now may be the time to make a play for him.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who roots for the New York Mets (and any team that is playing the New York Yankees ). A dedicated fantasy baseball player since 1998, his games of choice growing up were Strat-O-Matic and MicroLeague Baseball.
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