This Father's Day may be an apt historical marker for Phoenix ballfans to finally acknowledge that Justin Upton's our daddy. The four year, hyped wait appears just about over for our oft-maligned superstar-in-training.
It's not just the result that he's smashing .434 over the past twenty games, thrusting the not quite 24 year old among seasonal NL leaders. It's the visibly obvious, long wished for process leading up to the result that's so exciting.
It's the swing, Stupid.
Excuse me. "Daddy."
He's shortened his swing, especially with two strikes, reaping ridiculous results. Pundits claim he is quicker to the ball, and he seems to be using that extra "time" to both select and square up better pitches to hit. Ironically, "being quicker and shorter" means he's pulling the ball less than ever. Everything's left center/right center, except for an occasional sharp grounder in the shortstop hole.
He's spoiling tough two strike pitches, that used to march him back to the dugout. It seemed as if Justin worked a lot of full counts, but then often came up empty with big overanxious swings. He's now earning more pitches, by fighting off foul tips and eventually "settling" for line drives and singles.
He's shortened up on the back end too. His follow through was notable for tremendous upper bod twist and torque. Now, it almost looks like a relaxed, more compact check swing, dare I speak it - "lazy" - like he's just tapping the ball. It visually reminds me of the way Luis Gonzalez tapped his way to 57 home runs in 2001.
Justin is hitting just about everything on the button, which further incents pitchers to spot with care - and get behind. He is no longer one of the guys in this lineup. He has emerged as The Man, the daily center of attention in the box, who rival managers and pitchers wake up with on their minds and with sweat on their brow.
This metamorphosis doesnt just get fools off his back and bolster clubhouse morale. The transformation from one of too many big swinging 'sluggers' to a line drive-spitting OBP machine is precisely and objectively what this Kegger batting order Kraves. Josh Byrnes' nuclear Kore has more untimely power surges than APS. It has always lacked a reliable, daily source of direct current and contact, more like the current of a river. Like SRP. A river that stays within its banks and both steadies and propels this powerful team.
The Diamondacks arent quite as solid as they look and may be slowly dissolving as we speak. Justin Upton is stemming that tide. The fellas are finally floating on his muscular back, and we'll see how long he can keep them afloat. He is not the Father of Waters, not yet, but has grown into a river and a man.
Young Man River. If this team sinks, it wont be his fault.
** Happy Fathers' Day
*** Justin Upton Poll >>>> top right