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Detroit Tigers: Justin Upton Catching Fire at Opportune Time

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Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Justin Upton (8) runs the bases after hitting a two run home run against the Cleveland Indians in the fifth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Justin Upton (8) runs the bases after hitting a two run home run against the Cleveland Indians in the fifth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers outfielder Justin Upton crushed another home run during Sunday’s victory in Cleveland. This is nothing new for Upton, who’s been hitting homers at an outstanding rate.

Detroit Tigers outfielder Justin Upton didn’t exactly get off to the best start in the Motor City. Over the first three months, the 28-year-old hit just eight home runs and drove in 34 runs for the Tigers. He also added just 36 runs scored and 23 walks over the same span.

However, things have started to turn around for the All-Star outfielder.

Over his last 25 games, the outfielder has slugged 12 home runs while adding 30 RBI, 18 runs scored, 12 walks and three doubles.

The former first-overall pick has been particularly effective during the last week, with three home runs and six RBI during the weekend series in Cleveland.

None of Upton’s home runs were exactly short blasts either.

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All of a sudden, the former Diamondback’s season numbers are in line with some of his career averages.

Since breaking into the big leagues in 2007, the outfielder has averaged 84 RBI, 32 doubles, 26 home runs and 15 stolen bases per 162 games. In 140 contests this season, Upton has turned in 74 RBI, 24 home runs, 24 doubles and nine stolen bases.

Considering the monumental slump the veteran opened the season in, the fact that he’s in position to surpass a number of his career averages is significant.

Opportune Timing

Upton’s recent hot streak has certainly helped him improve his numbers, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Sep 16, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Justin Upton (8) and designated hitter Victor Martinez (41) celebrate Upton hit a home run during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Victor Martinez is batting just .204 in 15 September games. The cleanup hitter also owns more strikeouts (12) in August than runs scored, doubles, home runs and RBI combined (eight).

What’s more, Nick Castellanos, who is third on the team in wRC+, hasn’t played in a game since August 6th.

Implications For the Rest of the 2016 Season

Despite the hot streak, Upton will likely continue to hit sixth moving forward. However, his improved play gives Detroit’s lineup considerable length for the stretch run. Hopefully, the former Padre can continue his assault on opposing pitching all the way through the playoffs.

Upton is just a .229 career hitter in the postseason, but he hasn’t played in October since four games with the Braves in 2013. Additionally, his .383 career on-base percentage in postseason play nearly makes up for the lack of hits on its own.

Next: Daniel Norris is Turning a Corner

Home runs tend to be crucial in playoff games, and if Upton can continue to deposit pitches into the stands, the Detroit Tigers will be in excellent shape moving forward.

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