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Justin Upton is primed for huge bounce back year

After a monster 2011 and a disappointing 2012, the Diamondbacks outfielder could re-establish himself as a superstar.

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton deservedly finished fourth in the 2011 NL MVP voting. In 2012, Upton was arguably the fifth-most valuable hitter on his team. These wild swings drew the attention of ESPN Insider Dan Szymborski, who predicts an uptick in production from the 25-year-old outfielder in 2013.

When Upton finished 2011 with an OPS+ of 141 and garnered all those MVP votes, Szymborski's projection system (called ZiPS) called for regression, predicting a 128 OPS+ in 2012. But by swatting only 17 home runs and posting a 107 OPS+, Upton underperformed even the most negative projections.

But if this is Upton bottoming out, Szymborski argues, isn't it right to think that he will settle somewhere between "the next big thing" and "that guy can hit a little"? ZiPS projects better things for Upton in 2013, with 24 home runs and 3.4 Wins Above Replacement (he notched just 2.1 in 2012). So if you are looking for a player with something to prove and a chance to prove it in 2013, look no further than Justin Upton.