Key Stats: Dan Uggla saved his season from July 5th through August 15th last year with a 33-game hitting streak. Without that hot stretch Uggla would have finished last year with a .194 batting average. As it were his average was still weighted heavily to the times that he wasn’t on a 33-game hitting streak last year as he hit just .236 for the season. Streaks are a part of baseball though, so looking at his final line last year we saw once again what makes Dan Uggla a top tier second baseman year in and year out. For the sixth straight season he finished with 27 or more home runs, more than 80 runs, and more than 80 RBI.
Skeptics Say: The 36 home runs was a career high, but the batting average and the doubles were both career lows. Uggla almost doubled the amount of pop-ups he had a season ago and also had a career worst line drive rate. Meanwhile his home run to fly ball rate was a career worst. In other words, simply chalking up Uggla’s subpar season (according to his own standards) as poor luck would be completely incorrect. Even after his hot streak, his September numbers were slightly down in the average category from where he has always been. His problems might be deeper than just adjusting to the Braves and Atlanta.
Peer Comparison: It always looks good after you draft your team if you have pop somewhere in the middle infield that was drafted. Last season three middle infielders hit 30 or more home runs. They were Uggla, Ian Kinsler, J.J. Hardy, and Troy Tulowitzki. Kinsler and Tulo should be off the board by the time you are thinking of grabbing Uggla, but should you wait on Hardy who is going to go a few more rounds later. In a word, no. Here’s why:
There is just too much fluctuation in Hardy’s numbers particularly when talking about his home run to fly ball rate. Sometimes there’s a price to pay for consistency and a price to be saved for risk.
Lineup Outlook: Jason Heyward lost 20 pounds and claims that his shoulder isn’t bothering him anymore. As Fredi Gonzalez said, that is the Braves free agent acquisition if he can bounce back. That would also put less pressure on Uggla who was undoubtedly hard on himself for the way he started last season. If Heyward is hitting that takes off pressure and gives Uggla someone to drive home.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #7 Second Baseman; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #4 Second Baseman & #46 Overall; Yahoo: #4 Second Baseman & #44 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #4 Second Baseman & #44 Overall
Projection: When a player is this consistent it’s just not common sense to project a year that will be any different than normal.
89 R 32 HR 97 RBI 2 SB .248 AVG .340 OBP .828 OPS
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