Dan Uggla hit an unacceptable .220 last season for the Braves. Unfortunately for him, that seems to be the only number anyone ever looks at. Consider the following data points.
Were you aware that Uggla’s 19 homers were the 5th best in baseball for second baseman? That’s if we slot Ben Zobrist as a second baseman.
Were you aware that Uggla’s 78 RBIs were third at the second base position?
Were you aware that Uggla’s 86 runs scored were sixth at the second base position? He’d be fifth if we removed Zobrist.
Were you aware that his .348 OBP was better than the marks of Dustin Pedroia (.347), Neil Walker (.342), Jason Kipnis (.335), Rickie Weeks (.328) and Brandon Phillips (.321)? Uggla also tied with Joey Votto for the NL lead with 94 walks.
Were you aware that Uggla is the only second baseman in the history of baseball, ever folks, to hit 19 homers with 78 RBIs and 84 runs scored in 7-straight seasons? Moreover, he’s only played seven seasons, and if he repeats those three numbers once again in 2013 he’ll tie the all-time career mark for second baseman with eight such seasons (Jeff Kent).
So after all of that are you really going to sit there and tell me that the reason you lost last season was because of Uggla? Are you really going to tell me he was a huge disappointment? Are you really? I’m not saying that Uggla wasn’t disappointing last season, but I’m trying to keep it “real” as the kids say. His overall season last year was still good, at least in the counting categories (he’s never been an SB threat and in three of the past four years he hasn’t hit .245). That said, his batting average, homer total and RBI marks were all career lows, so I understand the frustration, but let’s not take that to the degree that we blame him for a fantasy squads failures.
The good news is that Uggla walked 94 times, a career best number. He also posted a 0.56 BB/K ratio which was a three year best and above his 0.48 career mark. Yes he was struggling to produce hits, but at least he didn’t totally lose control of the strike zone. That gives me some hope that his batting average could rebound. That’s especially true when I see Uggla with a 20.1 percent line drive rate – a career best. Last year was actually the first time that his line drive mark was ever over 17.8 percent. Despite a career best line drive rate his BABIP of .283 was below his career .292 mark. That doesn’t make a lot of sense now does it? It also doesn’t make much sense that his homer total fell given that his 46.4 percent fly ball ratio was a three year high. The reason that mark fell was that, after 4-straight years of at least 16.0 percent in the HR/F column, the mark fell to a career worst 11.4 percent. Nothing in his track record suggests that 11.4 percent is his new level, so the odds would favor a slight uptick in homers in 2013 for Uggla.
Maybe this is a case of me favoring the old guy, but I don’t see as much downside with Uggla as others. The Braves are going to play him every day, an a worst case scenario in my mind is a repeat of last season. Let me ask you this. If Uggla were to go .245-25-85-85 in 2013 would you take that? I ask because his career average is even better than that at .253-30-89-96. He’s no spring chicken, he’ll be 33 in March, but I’m still seeing enough in this guys efforts, as frustrating as it was to watch last season, that leads me to think that he has a a good chance to once again be one of the better run producing second baseman in baseball.
By Ray Flowers