Justin Upton
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Justin Upton
Justin Upton
Justin Upton 2018 (cropped).jpg
Los Angeles Angels - No. 10
Born: (1987-08-25) August 25, 1987 (age 33)
Norfolk, Virginia
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
August 2, 2007, for the Arizona Diamondbacks
MLB statistics
(through 2020 season)
Batting average.265
Home runs307
Runs batted in959
Stolen bases147
Career highlights and awards

Justin Irvin Upton (born August 25, 1987) is an American professional baseball outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2007 to 2012, Atlanta Braves in 2013 and 2014, San Diego Padres in 2015, and the Detroit Tigers in 2016 and 2017. He has been a teammate of his brother B.J. Upton with both the Braves and the Padres. While primarily a right fielder throughout his career, Upton has since transitioned to left field for the Braves, Padres and Tigers.

Upton was selected first overall by the Diamondbacks in the 2005 MLB draft out of high school and made his MLB debut with them in 2007. He has been selected to four All-Star teams and has won three Silver Slugger Awards. Justin and B.J. are the only brothers in Major League Baseball to ever be selected in the number 1 and 2 slots of the first round of any draft.

Early life and amateur career

Upton was born to Manny and Yvonne (née Gordon) Upton. Yvonne worked as a teacher and Manny worked variously as a scout for the Kansas City Royals, a mortgage broker and a college basketball referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference after playing both college football and basketball at Norfolk State.[1][2]

Upton played baseball with his brother, Melvin Upton Jr., who is three years older. The Upton brothers competed on travel teams with Mark Reynolds, David Wright, and Ryan Zimmerman. Upton played against Cameron Maybin in Amateur Athletic Union play.[3]

Upton was an all-district shortstop for Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Virginia, and won the AFLAC National High School Player of the Year Award.[4]Baseball America ranked him the best high school baseball prospect. He verbally committed to play college baseball at NC State.[5]

Professional career

Arizona Diamondbacks

Minor leagues

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Upton with the first overall selection in the 2005 MLB draft.

Justin Upton with the South Bend Silver Hawks in 2006.

In his first professional season he played for the Class-A South Bend Silver Hawks. He began 2007 with the Class-A Advanced Visalia Oaks, but was promoted to the AA Mobile BayBears after hitting .341 with 5 home runs for the Oaks in April.


On August 2, 2007, Upton was called up to the big league team at the age of only 19, following an injury to everyday right fielder Carlos Quentin. When he was called up, the Diamondbacks had star rookie Chris Young at center field, so Upton shifted to right.

Upton recorded his first career major league hit and run scored on August 4, 2007, in his third major league game. His first career RBI came the next day, and his first career home run two days after that. He almost became the youngest player ever to hit for the cycle on that day, falling just a single shy of the milestone.

He finished his rookie campaign with 2 home runs, 11 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, and a .221 batting average. Despite a relatively disappointing start to his career (albeit with limited playing time), he broke out in the 2007 post-season, leading the Diamondbacks to a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs, making it to the NLCS. He finished the 2007 post-season with an impressive .357 batting average, a double, a triple, a stolen base, and an RBI to go along with an impressive .571 slugging percentage.[6]


In 2008 spring training, Upton hit over .300 with three home runs, 12 RBIs, and four stolen bases, earning the starting right field job over Jeff Salazar. Manager Bob Melvin said that Upton has a "very high ceiling," and that it "wouldn't surprise him" if he had a great 2008 season.[7]

Upton began the season and held the current title of being the youngest active major leaguer second to Clayton Kershaw as of July 31, 2008. Upton collected his first big hit of the 2008 major league season on April 3. In the sixth inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds, he broke up a no-hitter in the major league debut of Johnny Cueto with a home run. It was Arizona's only hit of the contest. The next night (April 4), he went 3 for 5 against the Colorado Rockies in their home opener with his second home run of the season. For the third consecutive ballgame on April 5, Upton homered while collecting three hits in a 7-2 Arizona victory. His third home run made him only the third player ever under the age of 21 to hit home runs in three straight games. On April 11, Upton homered off Jeff Francis of Colorado for his fourth home run of 2008 campaign. The home run was in an 8-2 victory that was the seventh straight for Arizona. The very next day (April 12), he and Arizona continued their streaks, with Upton going 3 for 3, hitting a three-run home run to dead center field at Chase Field and the Diamondbacks winning 10-3, marking their eighth straight win. Upton had a career-high four RBIs on the day.

Upton went through a prolonged slump in the month of May that saw him go 0 for 24 with 17 Ks at one point. Upton came out of his slump on May 30 with a home run against the Giants.

On July 6, 2008, Upton hit a 484-foot (148 m) shot off San Diego Padres' pitcher Josh Banks. It was at that point the second-longest home run in the history of Chase Field. The only longer home run was a 503 ft (153 m) shot off the bat of Richie Sexson.

Despite getting off to a hot start on the year, cold streaks and a left oblique injury (which resulted in a five-week stint on the DL) ruined chances of Upton putting together a great year. However, he finished the year with respectable numbers for a 20-year-old, finishing the year with 15 home runs, 42 RBIs, 6 triples, 19 doubles, a stolen base, and a .463 slugging percentage to go along with a .250 batting average.[8] On defense, he tied for the lead among all major league outfielders in errors, with 11.[9]


Upton got off to a terrible start to the 2009 season, having just one hit in his first 21 at-bats (and not getting a hit until April 14, the sixth game of the year). He finished April with a .250 batting average with just 2 home runs and 8 RBIs.

It was in May, however where Upton turned his season around, putting up 7 home runs, 21 RBIs, 8 doubles, 4 triples, a league-leading .709 slugging percentage, to go along with a .373 batting average and a .444 on-base percentage. On June 2, 2009, Upton was named NL Player of the Month of May by the MLB for his great month. His brother Melvin Upton, Jr. earned AL Player of the Month of June, making Justin and B.J. the first pair of brothers to win player of the month honors in the same year.

On July 5, Upton was named to the 2009 All-Star team as a reserve outfielder for the National League.

As of October 10, 2009, Upton led the Diamondbacks in batting average (.300) and hits (158) to go along with 26 home runs (including his first career grand slam on 6/2/09 against the Dodgers) and 86 RBI. He's also thirteenth in the NL in slugging percentage (.532, third among outfielders) and has compiled 20 stolen bases to go along with 7 triples and 30 doubles. On August 5, 2009 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Upton strained his right oblique trying to steal second base, resulting in a stint on the disabled list. Rookie outfielder Trent Oeltjen had taken over his spot on the roster.[10]

On September 1, 2009, against the Colorado Rockies, Upton was taken out in the top of the third inning after hitting a 420-foot (130 m) single in his previous at-bat. Thinking the ball to be a home run, he did not hustle to first base, and when the ball short-hopped the wall, he was forced to stay on first base.

Another show of Upton's emotions was on 6/1/09, following a fly-out at Dodger Stadium Upton returned to the dugout and told his helmet, "I'm not going to throw you, helmet, I'm not going to throw you." The following game the talk seemed to work, as he hit his first career grand slam.[11]

In 2009, he led all major league outfielders in errors, with 12, and had the lowest fielding percentage among them (.961).[12] Despite this, Justin Upton posted a 7.4 UZR, a statistic some believe to be more telling than errors and fielding%.


On March 3, 2010, Upton agreed to a six-year, $50 million extension with a $1.25 million signing bonus, as well as a limited no-trade clause.[13]

Upton's season was cut short for the second straight season by a strained right oblique, but he still finished the season with a respectable .273 batting average, 17 home runs, and 69 runs driven in to go along with 18 stolen bases.[14]


Upton was selected to be an all-star in his hometown stadium for the second time in his career, along with his teammate, Miguel Montero.[15]

In 2011, Upton batted .289 with 31 home runs, but on defense he led all major league outfielders in errors, with 13.[9][16] He also led the NL in being hit by the pitch, with 19 (a Diamondbacks record), and was second in the league in doubles (39) and third in runs scored (105) and extra base hits (75).[9][17] He won a Fielding Bible Award in 2011 as the best fielding right fielder in MLB.[18]

Through 2011, Upton was 2nd all-time of Diamondback hitters in HBP (30), 3rd in slugging percentage (.487) and OPS (.845), 4th in OBP (.357) and strikeouts (573), and 5th in triples (24).[17] He was awarded one of the three National League OF Silver Slugger awards.[19]

He came in fourth in the voting for the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player Award, behind winner Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, and Prince Fielder.[20]


On August 3, 2012, Justin Upton hit his 100th career home run against the Philadelphia Phillies. His brother, B.J. would hit his 100th career home run thirty minutes later in another ballgame. Upton ended the 2012 season tied for 2nd in the National League in runs scored (107; behind Ryan Braun).[21]

After the 2012 season, Upton rejected a trade to the Seattle Mariners.[22]

Atlanta Braves


Justin (left) and Melvin Upton Jr. in 2013

On January 20, 2013, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded Upton and Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Martín Prado, Randall Delgado, shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, pitching prospect Zeke Spruill, and minor league first baseman Brandon Drury.[23] The trade allowed Upton to play with his brother Melvin, who had signed with Atlanta earlier in the offseason.[24] He and his brother hit back to back home runs on April 23, 2013 against the Colorado Rockies, marking the first time that brothers hit back to back home runs since 1938. The First time Melvin and Justin homered in the same game was April 7, 2013 when Melvin hit a game-tying home run off Carlos Marmol in the 9th inning and Justin Upton hit a game-winning home run (also off Marmol in the 9th inning) to lead the Braves a 6-5 victory over the Cubs.[25]


On August 8, Justin and Melvin homered in the same game for the fifth time, setting a new Major League record for brothers. The Uptons previously shared the record of four with two pairs of brothers: Vladimir and Wilton Guerrero, and Jason and Jeremy Giambi.[26]

San Diego Padres

Upton playing for the San Diego Padres in 2015

On December 19, 2014, the Braves traded Upton and Aaron Northcraft to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Max Fried, Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson, and Mallex Smith.[27][28]

On July 6, 2015, Upton was selected as an All Star for the third time in his career, and his first selection since 2011.[29] On October 23, 2015, Upton, along with Starling Marte and Christian Yelich, was selected as a Gold Glove finalist in LF.[30] In his only season for the Padres, Upton hit .251 with 26 HRs and 81 RBI. He filed for free agency on November 2, 2015.[31]

Detroit Tigers


On January 20, 2016, the Detroit Tigers signed Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million contract. The contract included an option for Upton to pursue free agency again after the 2017 season.[32][33] Upton hit his 200th career home run on July 18, 2016 off Minnesota Twins starter Ricky Nolasco, accounting for the only run in a 1-0 Tigers victory.[34]

Upton was named co-American League Player of the Week for the week of September 19-25 (sharing the honor with Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians). Upton was 10-for-25 (.400) with three doubles, three home runs, six RBI, and an AL-leading 22 total bases. It was his first Player of the Week award in the American League and fourth overall, having last won the NL award on April 13, 2014 with the Atlanta Braves.[35]

For the 2016 season, Upton hit .246 with 31 home runs and 87 RBI. 18 of Upton's home runs and 41 of his RBI came in the last six weeks of the season, during which he was one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball.


Upton was a late addition to the 2017 American League All-Star roster. His addition was announced after it was determined that starting pitcher Michael Fulmer, the only Tiger player initially selected to the team, could not participate in the game due to the scheduling of his starts. At the time of his selection, Upton was hitting .271 with 21 doubles, 15 home runs, 54 RBI, a .356 on-base percentage, and a .384 batting average with runners in scoring position (ranking third in the AL).[36] This was Upton's fourth career All-Star selection, and his first in the American League. In an August 4 game against the Baltimore Orioles, Upton hit his third grand slam of the season.[37]

Los Angeles Angels

On August 31, 2017, the Tigers traded Upton and cash to the Los Angeles Angels for Grayson Long and a player to be named later or cash.[38] On September 15, the trade was completed with the Tigers acquiring Angels pitching prospect Elvin Rodriguez as the PTBNL.[39]

Upton finished 2017 with a .273 batting average and .361 on-base percentage, while setting career highs with 44 doubles, 35 home runs, 109 RBI, and a .901 OPS.[40] He also scored 100 runs for the third time in his career.

Upton was named a 2017 Gold Glove finalist in left field, along with Brett Gardner of the Yankees and Alex Gordon of the Royals.[41] On November 2, Upton agreed to re-sign with the Angels to a 5-year, $106 million contract.[42][43]

Upton was named the AL Silver Slugger Award recipient in left field. This was Upton's third career Silver Slugger Award.[44]


In his first full season with the Angels, Upton batted .257/.344/.463 while slugging 30 home runs and driving in 85 runs.[45]


On March 24, during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Upton suffered a turf toe injury.[46] Upton's season debut was delayed to June 21.[47] On September 13, Upton was diagnosed with patellar tendinitis, ending his 2019 season early. Upton finished the season batting .215/.309/.416 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs, playing in just 63 games with a total of 256 plate appearances.[48]


Upton hit his 300th career home run on July 29, 2020 in a game against the Seattle Mariners.[49] He finished the pandemic-shortened season hitting .204/.289/.422 with 9 home runs and 22 RBIs in 42 games.



  1. ^ Jones, Bomani (April 12, 2007). "Jones: The Upton brothers". ESPN. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ Hummer, Steve (February 10, 2013). "Uptons' upbringing all about competition". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ Where new Detroit Tigers OF Justin Upton is from, where he's going
  4. ^ "BaseballAmerica.com: High School: Player Of The Year: Upton Finishes On Top". www.baseballamerica.com. Retrieved .
  5. ^ "NC State Baseball Inks Banner Recruiting Class". NC State University. November 18, 2004. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "Justin Upton Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ Melvin: Team better in 2008 azcentral.com
  8. ^ "Justin Upton Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ a b c "Justin Upton Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ Steve Gilbert. "Upton strains right oblique". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved 2011.
  11. ^ Steve Gilbert. "Upton's talks with helmet seem to work". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2011.
  12. ^ "MLB Player Fielding Stats - As rf - 2009". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2011.
  13. ^ Dierkes, Tim (March 3, 2010). "D'Backs, Justin Upton Finalize Multiyear Deal". MLB Trade Rumors.
  14. ^ "Justin Upton Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved 2011.
  15. ^ "Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton named to second All-Star team as an NL reserve". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved 2011.
  16. ^ "2011 Major League Baseball Fielding Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2011.
  18. ^ "The 2011 Awards". The Fielding Bible. Archived from the original on November 1, 2011.
  19. ^ "MLB's top offensive players earn Silver Slugger Awards". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2011.
  20. ^ Houston Mitchell (November 22, 2011). "Ryan Braun wins NL MVP award; Matt Kemp second". LA Times. Retrieved 2011.
  21. ^ 2012 National League Batting Leaders | Baseball-Reference.com
  22. ^ Crasnick, Jerry. "Source: Justin Upton rejects trade". MLB.com. Retrieved 2013.
  23. ^ Dbacks, Braves agree to trade, MLB News and Trade, January 20, 2013
  24. ^ "B.J. Upton, Braves Finalize $75.25M, 5-Year Contract". Huffington Post. November 29, 2012.
  25. ^ Cubs vs. Braves - Game Recap - April 6, 2013 - ESPN
  26. ^ Morgan, Joe (August 9, 2014). "Uptons go deep, set sibling home run record". MLB.com. Retrieved 2014.
  27. ^ ESPN News Services (December 19, 2014). "Justin Upton acquired by Padres". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2014.
  28. ^ Nightengale, Bob (December 19, 2014). "Padres land Justin Upton in trade with Braves". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2014.
  29. ^ "2015 MLB All Stars announced". CBSSports. Retrieved 2016.
  30. ^ "2015 Gold Glove finalists announced". MLB.com. Retrieved 2016.
  31. ^ Who's Who in Baseball 2016
  32. ^ Beck, Jason (January 19, 2016). "Upton's 6-year deal has short-term flexibility". MLB.com. Retrieved 2016.
  33. ^ Beck, Jason (January 19, 2016). "This just in: Motown adds Upton for pop, hits". MLB.com. Retrieved 2016.
  34. ^ Trister, Noah (July 18, 2016). "Matt Boyd terrific, Upton homers as Tigers shut down Twins 1-0". CBSsports.com. Retrieved 2016.
  35. ^ Woodbery, Evan (September 26, 2016). "Tigers Justin Upton wins AL co-player of week honors". MLive.com. Retrieved 2016.
  36. ^ Hutchinson, Derick (July 7, 2017). "Tigers OF Justin Upton added to All-Star team". clickondetroit.com (WDIV-TV). Retrieved 2017.
  37. ^ "Upton slam, Verlander's arm carry Tigers past Orioles 5-2". CBSsports.com. August 5, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  38. ^ Guardado, Maria (August 31, 2017). "Angels land Upton in swap with Tigers". MLB.com. Retrieved 2017.
  39. ^ Fenech, Anthony (September 15, 2017). "Detroit Tigers acquire Angels prospect to complete Justin Upton deal". www.freep.com. Retrieved 2017.
  40. ^ "Justin Upton 2017 Batting Gamelogs". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved .
  41. ^ Randhawa, Manny (October 26, 2017). "Elite defenders named Gold Glove finalists". MLB.com. Retrieved 2017.
  42. ^ "Angels reach 5-year deal with Justin Upton". ESPN. November 2, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  43. ^ Guardado, Maria. "Justin Upton bypasses opt-out, signs with Angels". MLB. Retrieved 2017.
  44. ^ "Angels outfielder Justin Upton wins Silver Slugger Award". FoxSports.com. November 9, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  45. ^ Justin Upton Stats | Baseball-Reference.com
  46. ^ DiGiovanna, Mike. "Justin Upton injured during Angels' defeat of Dodgers in Freeway Series opener". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019.
  47. ^ Hille, Bob. "Justin Upton injury update: Angels slugger to be activated, make season debut Monday". Sporting News. Retrieved 2019.
  48. ^ [1]
  49. ^ "Justin Upton's 300th home run". MLB.com. July 30, 2020. Retrieved 2020.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Lastings Milledge
Youngest Player in the
National League

Succeeded by
Clayton Kershaw

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