Removing my hands from the keyboard, I had no idea how Dan Uggla was still standing. It wasn’t really the sight that bothered me because he played it off well, but the sound was what worried me at first. Getting hit in the head didn’t seem to bother him; he just walked on to first base with no issue.
Seeing this Tuesday night, I started thinking to myself, “How important IS Dan Uggla to the team?”. I’m here to tell you he is way more important than the .220 average that he hit last year. I took to stats to try to prove my point.
Other than the fact that he hasn’t hit over .260 except for his first year and the year before he came to Atlanta, his numbers aren’t that bad. Sure he hasn’t struck out less than 149 times since his first year in the league, but he has walked 90+ times twice. Also, he has been in the double digits in the hit-by-pitch category twice (13 in 2007 and 10 last year). Other than last year, he had a habit of being a 30+ home run staple and assuring his team 85-90 RBI. Truth is, he finds his way to get on base, having a career OBP of .343, which is 24 points higher than the league average this past year.
Some of those numbers are quite misleading. From his time in Miami to the past two years with the Braves he averages 156 games per season. He rarely ever takes a day off, and I have yet to see him take a slow jog to first on any ball he puts in play. On defense, he gets in the way of every ball his way and is never afraid to lay out for an out. Those facts alone, in an era where a sore big toe gets players off the field for a week, are what make Uggla valuable beyond his numbers. Young guys and veterans alike need to see some a guy that hustles every single day.
Numbers don’t make every single player. Dan can hit 30 home runs and 90 RBI every year, but what I like to see is him busting his butt down the line on a ground ball when he is 0 for his last 20 or on a 10 game hitting streak. That fact alone makes him more valuable to the mindset of the team than any other guy can provide with their numbers.