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Justin Upton and Unfair Expectations

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The Detroit Tigers signed free agent outfielder Justin Upton to a new contract this week, worth potentially $132.75 million over six seasons. There is an opt-out clause for Upton after two years, which could have benefits for both sides assuming he plays well over those two seasons.

As noted by Patrick OKennedy at Bless You Boys, the Upton deal gives the Tigers a stable roster and predictable finances for the next two years. The Tigers now have the fourth-highest payroll in the majors, but much of that money is scheduled to come off the books in 2017-2018, good scheduling given the unknowns of the new CBA negotiations that will have an uncertain effect on payroll taxes and salaries.

Patrick Whelan ran down some reactions to the Upton signing from around the league.

What do you guys think of Upton? On the one hand, it seems like he's been considered by some to be something of a disappointment in his career, given his reputation for streakiness and how much he was hyped when he was coming up. On the other hand, in aggregate he has been a very steady consistent producer since he was 21 years old, averaging 26 homers per season, with a career slash of .271/.372/.473, OPS+ 121, wRC+121, with 26.5 WAR over 1184 games. He's not going to hit .300 but you can pencil him in for 25-30 homers and 150 games year after year.

His Sim Score list through age 27:

  1. Ruben Sierra (931)
  2. Barry Bonds (916)
  3. Johnny Callison (911)
  4. Adrian Beltre (905)
  5. Greg Luzinski (904)
  6. Carl Yastrzemski (904) *
  7. Andruw Jones (904)
  8. Jack Clark (901)
  9. Del Ennis (900)
  10. Cesar Cedeno (898)

Interesting that there are some guys who were considered talented disappointments in their own time (Sierra and Cedeno notably) but everyone there was certainly a strong player, including a Hall of Famer and at least two others who could be or should be.

So, questions for discussion:

***Has Upton been the victim of unfair expectations, given that he didn't turn into Ken Griffey Jr. but has "merely" been a very valuable player?

***Will he be playing with the Tigers three years from now, or will he have mega-seasons in 2016 and/or 2017 and opt out in search of more money?