What’s next for Angels’ Justin Upton after a rollercoaster 2021 season?

ANAHEIM — Justin Upton’s place in the Angels’ future is uncertain.

After Joe Maddon said that he doesn’t “anticipate” Upton coming back in the last two weeks that the back injury that currently has him on the injured list, the Angels manager said Upton will “be in the mix with all these other guys,” for playing time in the outfield next year.

Upton, 34, has finished off a third consecutive disappointing season. He was on the injured list twice with back injuries, and in between, he hit .211 with a .705 OPS.

He lost most of 2019 to injuries and had a .724 OPS when he played, and he started the shortened 2020 season so badly that he lost his job. He had a hot finish to the season but still ended up with a .711 OPS.

Upton’s career OPS is .814. The major league average for a left fielder is  .738.

“I like the guy a lot,” Maddon said. “He has leadership qualities among the group. He really does. And I’d like to believe that there’s more of what we saw when he was really hot. He carried us for about a month.”

Upton hit .320 with a 1.020 OPS over the 25-game span after the Angels moved him into the leadoff spot in late May. Then he hurt his back for the first time, and he wasn’t the same when he came back, before going on the injured…

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