Padres Editorials: Melvin Upton Isn’t Half Bad


To get Craig Kimbrel out of Atlanta, GM A.J. Preller had to take on the over $46 million remaining on the contract of Melvin Upton, Jr. He has a reputation for having (oh let’s say) a problem with motivation. Frankly, despite having $100 million talent, Upton has never been a particularly valuable ballplayer. Few Padre fans seemed thrilled with his acquisition. But when one looks at the numbers, Melvin Upton has been a pretty decent player. 

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It’s difficult to defend a guy who seems not to give it his all. Upton had two horrendous seasons in Atlanta and became hated by the Braves’ fans. He had a pathetic on-base percentage with limited power, fewer stolen bases, and worse defense. After hitting for only a .237 OBP in his 18 June games, it seemed as if the Padres really would have to swallow a big chunk of change and get nothing in return.

Yet, he sits with a .248/.307/.426/.733 slashline. His 106 OPS+ is better than Derek Norris and Will Venable and is only two points below Matt Kemp in that very statistic. If he had played a whole season at the pace he’s on now, he would have had over 20 steals.

In August, Upton has a .918 OPS, which betters even Matt Kemp.

Upton turned 31 on August 21st. His best years are likely behind him. But perhaps Atlanta was just a terrible fit for Upton. He won’t put up offensive numbers that match up with his talent until he fixes his swing. But he is providing a decent offensive option in centerfield – the team’s second biggest hole as of now.

Next year, it is likely that Wil Myers and Matt Kemp will be in the corner outfield spots. But with A.J. Preller, who knows? What Upton is proving to us is that he very well might be a decent option. The Padres could therefore focus more on shortstop and pitching. Now, with all that being said, can we see more of Travis Jankowski?

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