If all it takes is a day or two off to turn around a baseball player, then maybe Brad Ausmus needs to give a few more Detroit Tigers a little holiday.
The Detroit Tigers left fielder, Justin Upton, has been absolutely on fire since his day off in the middle of August.
And, after his clutch three-run bomb in the 11th inning against the Chicago White Sox on Labor Day, I’m officially signing on to the unofficial J-Up fan club. He’s still not “My Tiger”, but he’s become one real threat at the plate.
After a horrific start of the season and less-than-mediocre middle, Ausmus gave Upton the day off on August 19. At this point, Upton was not hitting and his fielding was also sub-par. He didn’t have any hustle and he looked like he had had enough. Honestly, the fans did, too. I even wrote about my frustration with him in a piece that I published on August 16.
But since his return on August 20, he has been a completely different guy. His entire game seems to have changed and he has been carrying the team with his late-inning, high stakes home runs.
Was it the rest that did it? Or did he spend some time with David Ortiz when the Boston Red Sox were in town? There was video on Fox Sports Detroit of the two power-hitters chatting before a game during the series in the middle of August.
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Whatever the cause, Upton has proven that he can come through in big moments. Prior to tonight’s game against the ChiSox, Upton had 52 at-bats, 7 home runs, and 18 RBIs. Tonight, he can add one more home run and three more RBIs. Adding to the improvement, he has even cut down on his strikeouts, with only 13 since August 20. This is less than one strikeout per day – which is not where he was prior to this streak.
Adding to the improvement, he has even cut down on his strikeouts, with only 13 since August 20. This is less than one strikeout per day – which is not where he was prior to this streak. In his 23 games in April, he had 38 strikeouts. And prior to the day off in August, he was down to one strikeout per game, but only 3 hits and no RBIs. I’ll take a few strikeouts if they are balanced with a bunch of dingers and RBIs.
Will this Justin Upton last through the end of the season? If I could predict that, I wouldn’t be working right now – I’d be basking in the sun in a tropical oasis or watching every Tigers game from behind the dugout. Do I hope he keeps this up? Of course! The Upton naysayers might comment on how this is “typical Upton” going hot and cold through the season. But, other than his rookie year, this has been Upton’s worst season in his career. When you are in the dumps, the only way to go is up.