Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon made a bold move with the team reeling on both sides of the ball. He took Justin Upton, who was struggling mightily to get good contact and avoid the strike out, and put him at the leadoff spot, a place he has never been before in his long career. At first, it was seen as a move just to reset his mind at the plate.
However, it’s since become an every day thing, mainly because Upton has been playing his best baseball in a long time. In 23 games batting leadoff, Upton is slashing .330/.429/.614. He has 29 hits, six home runs, 15 RBI’s and 16 walks. Simply put, he’s been incredible, and it has made things much easier on an offense missing their best player in Mike Trout.
Maddon gave Upton immense praise for his work in the new role, saying that Upton is one of the biggest reasons for the team’s recent success, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:
“It’s just how he’s leading right now,” Maddon said of Upton. “He is enjoying it. It’s obvious the other players feel it, the coaches feel it. I want to believe the fans feel it. He’s maybe the biggest reason why we’ve ascended like we have.”
As previously stated, it’s been 23 games since Maddon made the switch to get Upton to the No. 1 spot in the lineup. They’ve had Trout in none of those games, and yet they are 15-8 while averaging just over six runs per game and playing phenomenal baseball.
It’s unclear how Maddon feels about Upton batting leadoff once the season winds down or once Trout returns. However, if he keeps playing like this, there’s no reason to have him bat anywhere else. The switch has also worked for David Fletcher, who has turned things around immensely since moving to the No. 9 spot in the lineup.
Shohei Ohtani belts two home runs on Friday
The Angels put together an offensive masterpiece on Friday against the Detroit Tigers. As a team, the Angels had four home runs and four doubles on the night, with a lot of the credit being given to Shohei Ohtani.
Earlier on Friday, Ohtani announced he would be entering the Home Run Derby. He emphasized that announcement by hitting two home runs, bringing his season total to 21.