Upton’s Extremely Valuable Night

I think it’s safe to say that budding star Justin Upton stole the show last night in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ game against the New York Yankees. Upton slugged two home runs and added a single, a walk, and a hit by pitch in his other three plate appearances. On the bases, Upton managed to steal second as well. It was a big game by any standard – four runs scored and four RBIs for your fantasy teams as well as a 4.29 RE24 and a rather modest .124 WPA due to the Diamondbacks building an early lead on AJ Burnett and the Yankees.

As this article is written, before the nightly stats update, Upton has compiled 1.3 WAR and is on pace for roughly 2.7 WAR per 600 plate appearances – a decent season, but slightly disappointing given his 4.8 WAR season last year. Tonight’s production, however, adds rougly 4.2 runs of value for Upton – 1.4 per home run, 0.5 for the single, 0.35 for each the BB and HBP, and 0.2 for the SB. The effort should, if I’ve calculated it correctly, push Upton’s WAR for the season up to 1.7, which would mean that Upton would now be on pace for a roughly 3.5 WAR season.

Last night’s efforts were worth nearly two million dollars and pushed Upton’s pro-rated value for the season up by four million dollars. The boost in production shows us two things – pro-rated statistics can undergo massive day-to-day fluctuation, and one player can be extremely massive in the course of only five plate appearances. Of the 1008 position players to play in the MLB this season, only 215 have accrued more than 4.2 runs of value this whole season. Upton’s 4.2 runs last night puts him in the same class as the seasons to date of Andruw Jones, Julio Borbon, and Luis Castillo.

Even though Justin Upton isn’t performing quite at the level I expected him to this year, nights like this are why I still believe he will be a superstar in this league. The Arizona Diamondbacks and their fanbase certainly hope to see more days like this out of the stupendously talented young man, and I, for one, don’t think they will be disappointed.

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Jack Moore's work can be seen at VICE Sports and anywhere else you're willing to pay him to write. Buy his e-book.

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