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April 10, 2014

Skewed Left

The Surprising Sameness of Justin Upton

by Zachary Levine


“Ideally you’re judging a trade by what you know at the time, and if you want to be really strict about that, you stop judging the trade after it happens.” – Ben Lindbergh, Effectively Wild Episode 191

“I think probably it’s best that nobody who talks or writes about baseball for a living ever pats themselves on the back.” – Sam Miller, same episode

I listened again yesterday to that episode from last April, because it’s that time of year. The episode, better known for Sam’s admission that he used to mispronounce Robin Yount’s name, ends with a discussion of how proud of itself the internet was for lambasting the Justin Upton trade for the Diamondbacks as Upton appeared to be cruising toward his first-ever MVP Award.

But it’s definitely that time of the year. We just published our list of some memorably misleading April performances. We’re not just learning the name, but hashtagging every possible version of the name Yangervis Solarte. And we’re fired up for Melky Cabrera as the latest re-breakout player whom the baseball internet loves—what Upton was in 2013.

Or at least what Upton was in April 2013, when he was slugging .734 with a very pedestrian .302 BABIP, a result of hitting 12 home runs—each one raising the temperature a degree or two on Kevin Towers’ butt cushion.

There’s a common line of thinking that if you’re going to have a slump, it’s best not to have it early, because that’s the time it gets the most noticed—a .125 batting average for a couple weeks tends to blend in after four months. With Upton, it’s the opposite: If you’re going to have a hot streak, have it early, because your numbers will always look great.

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<< Previous Article
Baseball ProGUESTus: P... (04/10)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Revol... (04/03)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Skewed Left: How Servi... (04/18)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Painting the Black: (B... (04/10)

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