The first week of the regular season is in the books. After completing the sweep of the Cubs yesterday the Braves have a one game division lead in this young season. They were fortunate enough to open the season at home for a week, but the remainder of April will be spent mainly on the road. While the road ahead is uncertain, we now know that the Braves know how to put on a show at home. We’ve already seen it all in just six games: close games, a blowout, and even a come-from-behind victory. But who was the main contributor to the Braves’ success this week? I think that goes without saying…
#8 Justin Upton LF
Justin Upton’s debut with the Braves has been better than anyone could have expected. His brother, on the other hand, is not enjoying as much success. While everyone was busy talking about the Orioles’ designated hitter Chris Davis’s home run streak earlier in the week, Justin was putting together a similar feat. He did not hit a home run in each his first four games, but he does have a league-leading five home runs after six games.
The only other player with offensive stats that could rival Justin on the Braves is Freddie Freeman. The two have an equal number of hits (7), doubles (1), RBIs (7) and walks (2). Freeman’s average is better (.412 vs .318) but this difference could be attributed to Freeman playing one less game because of his injury. The game Freeman missed happened to be Justin’s worst, in which he went 0-4 with four strikeouts. That brought his strikeout total up to a team-leading 11, which accounts for just over one-fifth of the strikeouts by Braves starters. This seems worrisome, but one bad game can’t ruin what someone did over the course of an entire week.
The most memorable moment of the week came at the end of the second game against the Cubs on April 6th. After scoring three runs in the 8th, the Braves entered the 9th inning down by one. Luckily for the Braves struggling pitcher Carlos Marmol was on the mound to close out the game. The Braves were about to enter the meat of their lineup, but had to wait for the ice-cold B.J. Upton to take his licks. Out of nowhere he hit a blast to center field. His first home run of the year tied a ballgame that the Braves were losing from the start, and gave his brother a chance to win the game for them. After a Jason Heyward pop out it was Justin’s time to shine once again. And, man, did he deliver.
This was a moment in baseball history. It was the first time two brothers hit a game-tying and walk-off home run in the same inning. The Braves season could be jam-packed with storybook moments like this, but that was something special. Because of that game and his overall performance this week, Justin Upton rightfully earns the title of Player of the Week.
For those interested, here is a quick video recap of the April 6th game which includes both B.J. and Justin’s home runs.