Per MLB.com, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Justin Upton will miss the rest of the season due to a right lumbar strain. The diagnosis sent Upton to the 10-day Injury list at the beginning of the month, but the injury has not progressed enough for the veteran to return.
When the team initially placed him on the IL earlier this month, Angels manager Joe Madden said he did not anticipate Upton returning during the last leg of the season as the team was already out of playoff contention.
Madden told OCRegister.com, “I like the guy a lot. He has leadership qualities among the group. He really does, and I would like to believe that there is more of what we saw when he was really hot. He carried us for about a month.”
Upton rode the wave of his 2020 finale at the start of the year as he hit .320 with an on-base plus slug of 1.020 throughout a 25-game span.
The numbers spike came at the hands of Madden shuffling the lineup to have Upton bat leadoff from early April to late May.
This was around the time his back discomfort started taking shape, which led to his extended stint on the IL.
Numerous injuries caused the 34-year-old to come up short for the third consecutive season for the Angels; Two of which were due to back injuries, as mentioned earlier.
He finished the year averaging .211 with an on-base plus slugging percentage of .705, 41 RBI, and 17 home runs in 89 games.
Although he finished the pandemic shortened season on fire, J-Up struggled so much in the earlier parts of the season that his performance relegated him to pine; And the 2019 season resembled 2021 as he missed most of the year due to a plethora of injuries.
Upton is a career .262 hitter throughout numerous stops around the league with the Arizona Diamondback, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers, and Angels with 1,000 RBI and 324 homers in 1,828 games.
With high praise from his manager to the organization’s respect and being a leader for his peers, Upton will be roaming the grass in the city of angels if he has the willpower to overcome the injury kryptonite.
But if this is the end of an illustrious career, well, let’s say it’s been a heck of a ride.
Taijuan Walker has silenced many of his haters this season by taking the city that never sleeps by storm. He has the seventh-lowest ERA in the Major Leagues and struck out a career-high 12 batters during his start this week against the Chicago Cubs.
Through the first three months of the season, Taijuan Walker has been the steal of the off season. The Mets were the only team to offer him a contract, which is for 2 years and $20 million with a player option for the third.
“Everything’s worked out well for everyone,” Walker told reporters. “I’m glad the Mets were my only offer.
Taijuan Walker's 2.12 ERA is the second-lowest in history by a Met in his first 12 starts with the franchise.
The lowest: Al Leiter, who produced a 1.70 ERA over his first 12 starts in 1998.
In Tuesday’s start against the Cubs, Walker struck out a career-high 12 batters and lowered his ERA to 2.12 which is good for seventh in the league. It was his third start this season without allowing a walk and he has caught fire since returning from the Injured List.
In the four starts since his return, Walker has thrown 24 innings and struck out 31 hitters.
His Black Knight rotation mate Marcus Stroman has been the Andre 3000 to Walker’s Big Boi. In his last two starts, Stroman has thrown 13 innings with 15 strikeouts and only one earned run.
Taijuan will get the Fathers Day start for the Mets as they travel to the nation’s capital to take on Josh Harrison, Josh Bell and the rest of the Nationals.
2. Mookie Betts
We have high expectations for Mookie, being that he is the best player in all of baseball. He got off to a slow start this season for his standards, but during the past week, Betts showed flashes of his MVP-caliber skills.
He’s hit .318 with three home runs, four RBI, eight runs, five walks and a .727 Slugging Percentage in his last seven games.
Bett’s has four multi-hit games this month and on Tuesday night against the Phillies, it was the 7th inning of a 3-3 game when Mookie stepped to the plate and blasted a solo home run.
It was the first time he hit a homer with Dodger stadium completely full.
Mookie travels to Arizona this weekend to take on the Diamondbacks who will be rocking their city connect uniforms on Friday night.
3. Marcus “Rock Any Park U” Semien
Marcus Semien has kept his hot bat from the month of May going in June. The reigning American League Player of the Month is batting .263 with three home runs this month, including a leadoff bomb Wednesday night against the Yankees’ Garrett Cole.
Through his last seven games, Semien is hitting .286 with three home runs, six RBI, seven runs and a stolen base. He is on track to start at second base for the American League All-Star team and is in the middle of what is a career year leading up to his free agency this offseason.
Bobby Bradley has been rocking out since joining Cleveland on June 5th as they have been riddled with injuries and he has given them exactly what they have been missing: power at the first base position. Thursday Bradley hit his fourth home run in just 10 games this season. He is now batting .375 with four home runs and 11 RBI.
Bradley has also helped the Indians stay afloat in a wide-open American League. Since his call up they have a record of 8-2 and sit in second place in the American League Central, four games behind Tim Anderson’s White Sox while being only a game back of Michael Brantley and the Houston Astros for the final Wild Card spot.
After finishing a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles Thursday, Bradley will travel to Pittsburg to take on Ke’Bryan Hayes and the Pirates.
Justin Upton was named Rob Parker’s Home Boi Highlight after batting .360 with 10 runs scored and two home runs last week. He recently moved to the leadoff spot in the Angels lineup and raised his batting average from .120 to .232.
Normally, a player starting his 15th season in the big leagues is considered on the decline.
But for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Justin Upton, a recent move up the batting order has served as a reminder of why he was selected with the first overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft.
With his team struggling to stay in the playoff race without Mike Trout, Angels manager Joe Maddon decided to make a drastic move to spark his lethargic ball club. His decision was to move the power-hitting, four-time All-Star Upton into the leadoff spot.
With Upton now being protected by budding superstar Shohei Ohtani in the lineup, Justin has looked a lot like the three-time Silver Slugger winner the Angels traded for back in 2017.
Over his last 15 games, Justin has hit six bombs and driven in 11 while slashing an impressive .309/.424/.727. This offensive explosion from Upton is much needed with Trout still out with a calf injury, and his manager knows it.
“These guys have really come up big, and J-Up, even though he had just the one hit (a leadoff HR), you put up a point on the first swing and you can see what that does to the pitcher,” said Maddon to mlb.com during the start of Upton’s hot streak. “ He pitched relatively well after that, but give up five[runs in the first]. So again, J-up is doing his job. He got us going.”
The decision to move Upton has paid off significantly, as the Angels have won seven of their last ten ballgames. If Upton is able to continue his hot hitting, he may be rewarded with his fifth trip to the All-Star Game.
-11-5 on over 1 in L16 & at least 1 in 14 of 16 w/6 HR & 5 2B -Leading off for visiting team to maximize opps, decent matchup & AZ bullpen also not good -Small plus odds w/push chance – we take it pic.twitter.com/o46y06pend
“Right now, he’s at 14 home runs and 29 RBI on the year,” writes Evan Desani of halohangout.com. “If he continues to hit at the rate he has in these past 15 games, he’ll be at 25 home runs and 41 RBI by the time of the [All-Star] game.”
Numbers that impressive would surely be enough for an All-Star nod. But even without that recognition, Justin Upton’s success is important for the continued growth of the game in the Black community. Something that the Upton family has contributed to in historic fashion throughout the years.
Justin and his older brother, Melvin “B.J.” Upton, are the only two brothers in MLB history to be selected first and second overall in the modern draft era (albeit two different drafts).
The Upton’s are also the first brother duo to make it into the 20-20 club(20 home runs and 20 stolen bases). The due\o have even managed to play together in the same outfield twice as members to the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves.
B.J. is no longer in the league, but his younger brother Justin has certainly carried the torch in his absence.
Upton’s awakening couldn’t have come at a better time, not only for the Angels but for Black fans around the country.
There are numerous prestigious titles that one could use to identify Justin Upton.
First Virginian drafted No. 1 overall in the MLB Draft. Three-time Silver Slugger winner. Angels left fielder. The better Upton Brother.
All of those titles are worthy, but according to Upton, being a full-time Dad trumps everything. Performing on a baseball field is something Upton does for a few months out of each year. Fatherhood, however, is a 24-7, 365 days a year position. It’s the title he’s most proud of.
He and his wife Ashley welcomed their first-born daughter, Sydnee, in 2016. In May of 2019.
Upton and his wife welcomed their second daughter, Evyn.
On the field, 2019 had been a challenging year for Upton. He suffered a turf-toe injury during a Spring Training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The injury caused him to miss the Angels’ first 71 games of the season. Later on that year, an MRI revealed that Upton needed a platelet-rich plasma injection. He’d be out for the rest of the season.
From the outside looking in, 2019 was difficult for Upton the baseball player. But what many people didn’t know was that it was an even more challenging year for Upton the full-time dad.
Two weeks after his daughter Evyn’s birth, a doctor noticed that the youngest Upton had some medical concerns. From that point on, the Upton family spent the following months seeing different doctors and specialists.
Medical experts diagnosed Evyn with a list of health problems, which pushed the Uptons to visit more and more hospitals in hopes of getting answers.
Finally, in January 2020, a geneticist broke the news to the family. Evyn Upton had been diagnosed with Emanuel Syndrome.
For many people, the words “Emanuel Syndrome” don’t ring a bell. The Uptons were no exception. Neither Justin nor Ashley had heard of the disease, and to their dismay, the doctors didn’t know much about it either.
In simple terms, Emanuel Syndrome, or ES, is a disorder that starts in the chromosomes. Those who suffer from the disease are likely to never walk or talk. Infants with the disease have weakened muscles and delayed weight gain.
Many also suffer from other physical abnormalities due to slow or improper developments of other parts of the body.
After becoming aware of the health struggles that come with an ES diagnosis, the Uptons had quickly become familiar with another major aspect of dealing with Emanuel Syndrome: finances. Between countless therapies and doctor visits, families dealing with ES have a large financial burden, and the Uptons wanted to help. However, with the COVID pandemic looming, their options were limited. Their solution?
Upton and his wife took to social media to spread the word. They would hold a virtual 5K through the month of November to raise funds and awareness, all to help families in need. Their decision was strategic.
They chose November because Nov. 11 is Emanuel Syndrome Awareness Day.
The couple each posted links on their social media pages where people could sign up for the virtual 5K. They asked all participants to wear purple or blue, which are the official colors for ES.
They also asked that all participants share a picture while completing their 5K with the hashtags #EmanuelSyndrome, #EmanuelSyndromeAwareness and #EmanuelSyndromeAwarenessDay.
While those who follow the Uptons on social media can see a small glimpse into the challenges that Emanuel Syndrome can bring, there is one thing on social media that the Upton family makes very clear: they consider Evyn to be their warrior.
Between the loving posts of his family and the ES resources linked to his social media profiles, Justin Upton has proudly and publicly taken his stance in the fight against Emanuel Syndrome.