Braves Second Baseman Beautifully Uggla

Dan Uggla Braves

Dan Uggla is a 3-time All-Star

Outside of one 33 game stretch during the summer of 2011, Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla has not really lived up to what most Braves fans expected after signing a five-year $62 million contract.  All of those lost in a world encompassed by hate of the all-star second baseman need to just realize that the contract is spilled milk at this point.

The frustrations experienced every time his patented helicopter swing whiffs at strike three are not yours alone.  Everyone in Braves Country has been pushed to wits end by a Dan Uggla shortcoming at some point over the last two and a half years, but it is high time that the complaining stop and the positives gain an audience.

First off, do not get hung up on the fact that he is currently batting just .200 for the season (.221 career as a Brave).  Uggla hardly shows the form of former light-hitting infielder Mario Mendoza.  Batting average has become a statistic of inflated importance but that is a debate for a different day.

Surprising to many is the fact that Uggla leads the Braves in home runs right now with 18.  In fact, that number leads all NL second sackers.  He also holds the third highest total of RBI in the National League at his position, trailing only all-stars Brandon Phillips and Matt Carpenter.

A reason for the second half power outage Uggla endured last season is difficult to understand.  His mere seven long balls after the break brought his total to a disappointing career low of 19.  2012 marked the first time in six years that he failed to hit over 30 homers in a single season.

Even with these struggles, Uggla managed to find a way to bring production to the team.  He posted a solid .348 OBP, while finishing in a tie atop the entire NL with 94 walks and his 86 runs were good for fourth on the roster.

As stated before, 2011 saw him put together an Atlanta Braves record 33 game hitting streak and a team leading 36 HR.  Nobody was talking trade or bench at that point.

The defense, well that area is pretty much indefensible.  Uggla is consistently among the bottom of the league when it comes to fielding his position.

When the offensive struggles are present, it is easy to understand the overall aggravation with one of the highest paid players on the team.  However, the incessant clamor of ridicule is hardly warranted, when you consider that he has led the Braves in homers and runs scored since being acquired from the Marlins.  He also trails only Freddie Freeman in runs driven home over that span.

Getting behind the 33-year old slugger and understanding the value he brings will only make things easier on you as a fan.  Hey, we all know watching him is not pretty most of the time.   Let’s just call it “Beautifully Uggla”.

  • Lee

    Jim, as I started reading this article, the knots in my stomach appeared, as if I was watching Uggla at the plate, with RISP. I totally understand the premise of your article, but understanding his value doesn’t help my angst. In an effort to be positive, you failed to mention one stat; he leads the national league in strikeouts (116) with that “helicopter” swing, causing most of the clamor. I would prefer half the home runs to half the strikeouts. However, I will try. Every time a ball is hit in his direction, and every time that he approaches the plate, I will take a deep breath & say to myself, “Beautifully Uggla.”

    • Jim Hart

      Lee, this article was actually written by a new addition to our staff, Nathan Miller. I think he has a unique perspective on Uggla’s contributions to the team.

    • Nate Miller

      Thanks for the feedback. By the end of last season I was right there with you. Now I see an Uggla that is trying to improve and make use of the tools he has left, no matter how diminished his overall skill set is compared to his Marlins days. I believe he bailed on the team amongst his struggles last year. With his new contacts and recent extra work in the cage, Uggla is showing a new ethic. We should embrace him as a feared slugger who has maddening flaws. He is going to be here a while.

      • Lee

        Thanks Nate for your insight. I apologize for directing my comment to Jim, as my email named Jim as the writer. Welcome to the Atlanta Bullpen! Well done. Trying to embrace.

        • Nate Miller

          Thank you and no sweat. Be sure to stay tuned.

      • Mike Crowe

        Nice try Mr. Miller, but I ain’t buying and neither is Braves Nation as a whole. This guy is deadwood, a rally killer, and a liablility on defense. This is the major leagues and Uggla is playing bush league. It’s been a few years now hasn’t it, and most of us have seen enough. Obviously you, Freddi, and Wren haven’t. In the meantime I’ll wait patently for your next article on how B.J. Upton has helped the Braves stay six or so games up in the division.

        • Nate Miller

          Obviously our viewpoints differ quite a bit Mike. However, I do appreciate the rebuttal or feedback of any type for that matter. My opinion of Uggla is that he is frustrating but Braves fans turning against him is unwarranted. The likes of Cano, Kipnis, Phillips, or Carpenter are not coming to town anytime soon. The Braves do not currently have a viable replacement on the roster. Pastornicky or Janish offer no where near the run producing potential. They are backups for a reason. Uggla is going to be a part of where the team finishes this season. We can choose to complain or embrace what he does contribute and hope for improvement. I will choose the latter. Churchill “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else”.

          • Mike Crowe

            I realize you writers have to be upbeat here, or as Heyward said in an interview concerning trying to up his embarrassing batting average, “It’s positive, positive, it’s all positive.” Right, well, I guess I’m not PC enough to consider our hat trick specialist second baseman as “Beautifully,” whilst fanning and bobling on a continual basis, and not quite smart enough to dismiss the “over inflated” batting average statistic, that served as a pretty good measure for some 150 years ( Sorry Ted Williams, your history stock is down in this century ). Now that failure is the new F- word, better then to just look at Uggla’s 19 homers ( long fly ball outs caught by today’s short fences in some cases ) and just give him a hug, and all for a few million bucks. Kumbaya, I’m okay your okay. BTW, Uggla just came up with the bases loaded and fanned. No, that’s not news, but the salt in the wound in watching him swing for the fence for grand slam glory with two strikes instead of shorting his swing and trying to help his team win with a hit. I’m still optimistic however – that Wren, who didn’t get to be GM selling used cars, will wake up and not have Freddi make up the lineup card according to salary.

          • Lee

            Last sentence says it all…couldn’t agree more with your take on Uggla…it’s depressing to watch it game after game!

  • Bill

    Load of crap give me any one million player and braves record would be the same

  • alapatriot

    It’s not just the strikeouts, it’s the watching the third strike! A decent hitter will try to protect the plate with two strikes, not Uggla (or several other Braves for that matter) Hitting coaches need to stress plate protection. Widen the strikezone, try to make contact etc. Don’t stand there like a bobblehead!

    • Lee

      You got it absolutely right. Thanks for the bobblehead chuckle…perfect!

      • Ryan Mcdaniel

        Uggla has an uncanny knack of coming to the plate with runners in scoring position. Its not just the many strike outs, its the infield pop-ups too. Yeah, hes got some good stats here and there, but his average with runners in scoring position is pathetic.

  • Robert

    hey, when good hitters are batting they follow the ball from the pitchers hand to the bat. Uggla pulls his head out all the time. Could be the violent swing, who knows. the fact is he doesn’t see the ball strike the bat , so with that being said….you can’t hit what you don’t see…simple isn’t it

  • Charles

    I’m not drinking this Kool-Aid on Uggla either. His batting average, strikeouts and inability to perform with RISP aren’t offset by the 19 homers for the money he is being paid. Add to that is that this season his defense has nosedived from prior years – he’s on a pace to double the number of errors committed last year. For $12M you should get more than that. The good news is not your misguided effort to be an Uggla apologist, but the fact that despite his lack of performance the Braves are likely to win the division. But I have a bad feeling that I am going to be sick in the playoffs when Uggla strikes out with RISP and costs us a game or two, and if he doesn’t do that a Brooks Conrad redux is certainly well within his skill set.