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Justin Upton is the biggest name on the trading block this summer.
He’s there because he has once again failed to live up to the hype of being a No. 1 overall pick and face-of-the-franchise.
Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers almost traded Upton shortly after being hired by the D-backs during the fall of 2010, and talks are much the same this time around.
For the season, Upton has a slash line of .274/.355/.394/.749, but he has just 7 HR and 38 RBI.
He hasn’t hit a long ball since June 23. Since then, he has gone 21-for-71 (.296), with three doubles and eight RBI, so there is at least a sign that he might be breaking out of his season-long slump.
But he has struggled to come through in the clutch all season, batting just .225 in “late and close” situations—or “Plate Appearances in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck,” as defined by BaseballReference.com.
There may be a light at the end of the tunnel, however.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson moved Upton from the three-hole—where he’s played 232 games since the start of last season—to the five-hole for the past two games, and he has responded by going 5-for-8 (.625) with an RBI and a walk. Second baseman Aaron Hill has replaced him as the No. 3 hitter for now.
If the batting order switch can turn his season around, he may just avoid being traded before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The D-backs enter play Wednesday 6.5 games out of a wild card spot and could really use a hot bat right about now.
Justin has carried the D-backs before. Can he do it again?