Justin Upton

Justin Upton

Upton with the Detroit Tigers in 2016
Detroit Tigers – No. 8
Born: (1987-08-25) August 25, 1987
Norfolk, Virginia
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
August 2, 2007, for the Arizona Diamondbacks
MLB statistics
(through 2016 season)
Batting average .269
Hits 1,314
Home runs 221
Runs batted in 703
Stolen bases 124
Strikeouts 1,361
Career highlights and awards

Justin Irvin Upton (born August 25, 1987) is an American professional baseball outfielder for the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2007 to 2012, Atlanta Braves in 2013 and 2014 and the San Diego Padres in 2015. He has been a teammate of his brother Melvin Upton, Jr. 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 and Padres.

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 three All-Star teams and has won two Silver Slugger Awards. Justin and Melvin are the only brothers in Major League Baseball to ever be selected in the number one and two slots of any first round draft.

Amateur career

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.[1]

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.

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.[2]


Upton during his tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008

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.[3]

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.[4] On defense, he led tied for the lead among all major league outfielders in errors, with 11.[5] On defense, in 2010 he led all major league outfielders in errors, with 10.[6]


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.[7]

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.[8]

In 2009, he led all major league outfielders in errors, with 12, and had the lowest fielding percentage among them (.961).[9] On defense, in 2010 he led all major league outfielders in errors, with 10.[6] 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.[10]

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.[11]


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.[12]

In 2011, Upton batted .289 with 31 home runs, but on defense he led all major league outfielders in errors, with 13.[5][13] 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).[5][14] He won a Fielding Bible Award in 2011 as the best fielding right fielder in MLB.[15]

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).[14] For these accomplishments, he was awarded one of the three National League OF Silver Slugger awards.[16]

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.[17]


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).

After the 2012 season, Upton rejected a trade to the Seattle Mariners.[18]

Upton brothers, 2013

Atlanta Braves


On January 20, 2013, the Arizona Diamondbacks completed a trade with the Atlanta Braves that sent Upton and Chris Johnson to the Braves in exchange for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, pitching prospect Zeke Spruill, and minor league first baseman Brandon Drury.[19] The trade allowed Upton to play with his brother Melvin, who had signed with Atlanta earlier in the offseason.[20] 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 Upton 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. [21]


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.[22]

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.[23][24]

On July 6, 2015, Upton was selected as an All Star for the third time in his career, and his first selection since 2011.[25] On October 23, 2015, Upton, along with Starling Marte and Christian Yelich, was selected as a Gold Glove finalist in LF.[26] 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.[27]

Detroit Tigers

On January 20, 2016, the Detroit Tigers signed Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million contract. The contract includes an option for Upton to pursue free agency again after two years.[28][29] 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.[30]

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.[31]

For the 2016 season, Upton hit .246 with 31 home runs and 87 RBI. 18 of Upton's homers 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.



  1. http://www.freep.com/story/sports/mlb/tigers/2016/01/23/detroit-tigers-justin-upton-high-expectations/79255044/
  2. "Justin Upton Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  3. Melvin: Team better in 2008 azcentral.com
  4. "Justin Upton Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 "Justin Upton Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  6. 1 2 "Yearly League Leaders & Records for Errors Committed as OF". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  7. Steve Gilbert / MLB.com. "Upton strains right oblique". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  8. Steve Gilbert / MLB.com. "Upton's talks with helmet seem to work". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  9. "MLB Player Fielding Stats – As rf – 2009". Espn.go.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  10. Dierkes, Tim (March 3, 2010). "D'Backs, Justin Upton Finalize Multiyear Deal". MLB Trade Rumors.
  11. "Justin Upton Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  12. "Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton named to second All-Star team as an NL reserve". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  13. "2011 Major League Baseball Fielding Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  14. 1 2 "Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  15. "The 2011 Awards". The Fielding Bible. Archived from the original on November 1, 2011.
  16. "MLB's top offensive players earn Silver Slugger Awards". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  17. Houston Mitchell (November 22, 2011). "Ryan Braun wins NL MVP award; Matt Kemp second". LA Times. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  18. Crasnick, Jerry. "Source: Justin Upton rejects trade". MLB.com. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  19. Dbacks, Braves agree to trade, MLB News and Trade, January 20, 2013
  20. "B.J. Upton, Braves Finalize $75.25M, 5-Year Contract". Huffington Post. November 29, 2012.
  21. http://www.espn.com/mlb/recap?gameId=330406115
  22. Morgan, Joe (August 9, 2014). "Uptons go deep, set sibling home run record". MLB.com. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  23. ESPN News Services (December 19, 2014). "Justin Upton acquired by Padres". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  24. Nightengale, Bob (December 19, 2014). "Padres land Justin Upton in trade with Braves". USA TODAY. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  25. "2015 MLB All Stars announced". CBSSports. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  26. "2015 Gold Glove finalists announced". MLB.com. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  27. Who's Who in Baseball 2016
  28. Beck, Jason (January 19, 2016). "Upton's 6-year deal has short-term flexibility". MLB.com. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  29. Beck, Jason (January 19, 2016). "This just in: Motown adds Upton for pop, hits". MLB.com. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  30. Trister, Noah (July 18, 2016). "Matt Boyd terrific, Upton homers as Tigers shut down Twins 1-0". CBSsports.com. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  31. Woodbery, Evan (September 26, 2016). "Tigers Justin Upton wins AL co-player of week honors". MLive.com. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
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Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Lastings Milledge
Youngest Player in the
National League

Succeeded by
Clayton Kershaw
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