D-Backs’ Justin Upton Needs to Carry His Young Squad

By Thomas Lynch

Let’s face it, the Arizona Diamondbacks are struggling.   Since opening the season at 5-1, their record is a horrific 9-17.  That is a lousy month of baseball for sure.  In times like these, contending teams look to their leader to carry them while the rest of the squad struggles.  The D-Backs are in need of such a player and the man to do it is Justin Upton.  The question is:  can he handle that role at such a young age?

After all, Upton is only 24 years old, not even scratching the surface of his vast potential.  There are huge expectations for him at such an early stage in his career as he has been mentioned in many places (including here) as a favorite to win the 2012 NL MVP Award.  He did place third in 2011’s MVP race finishing behind Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp. So far, Upton has struggled all season.  A thumb injury early on did him or the team no favors.  Still, that was weeks ago and it was expected that he was to return to last season’s form. Typical of this season’s struggles was Wednesday night’s loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.  With the score tied at 1 in the bottom of the fifth, Arizona had runners at first and second with one out.  This was the perfect opportunity for Upton to break out of his month-long slump.  Instead he grounded into an inning-ending double play, sapping any building momentum the D-Backs had built. 

Maybe the weight of such lofty predictions is too much for Upton at the moment.  There is no shame in that.  His career, both present and future is still as bright as anyone’s in the game.  Still, it might be a lot to ask for the youngster to carry such a young team during its early season slumber.  Then again, there are five months to go and much game left to be played.  Perhaps these next weeks will show Upton growing up before our very eyes.

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