D-Backs’ Justin Upton is an MVP Waiting to Happen

By Thomas Lynch

The Arizona Diamondbacks  have never fielded a National League MVP.  Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb collected Cy Young Awards as members of the Diamondbacks.  In fact, the Cy Young is the only individual award any Arizona player has obtained.  That could change as early as this season with the emergence of Justin Upton.

What is not to like about a guy who has 91 career home runs, two All-Star appearances and a Silver Slugger award all accomplished eight months before his 25th birthday?   The only two things Upton hasn’t done yet is win a Gold Glove or knock in 100 runs.  As he and his young teammates hopefully continue to blossom in 2012, a 30-30 season with over 100 RBI’s and a .300 batting average for Upton is not out of the question.  In fact, as long as he continues to work hard and stay healthy, those numbers could become almost routine for the next eight to ten seasons.  One number that happily has gone down is strikeouts.  Upton fanned 127 times in 2011 compared to 152 in 2010 and 137 in 2009.   The Diamondbacks would be thrilled if that number got down to 100.

Historically, right rield has been a position of royalty in the National League.   When two NL right field alumni include Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente, you know you are keeping some fine company.  More recent dominant players at this positions have been Dave Parker , for a period time the most fearsome player in the league and Tony Gwynn, one of the greatest hitters to ever live.  While we are not about to compare Upton to any of these great players yet, his ceiling is such that in 15 or 20 years, we may allow him to enter into the conversation.

Diamondback fans are thrilled to have one of the elite young players in the league playing his ball in the desert.   Signed through 2015, the youngster shouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.  As long as he keeps progressing, there is no reason why Arizona can not build its long term future around Justin Upton.

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