Sep 2, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (26) stands on first base against the New York Mets during the 6th inning at Turner Field. The Braves won 13-5. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Player Projection: Dan Uggla

$13.2 million for….?

Well, trying to trade him didn’t work. So it certainly looks like Dan Uggla will be in a Braves uniform again for 2014. We’ll have to close our eyes and hope for the best as Dan does the same at the plate.

After a solid start to his career with the Florida Marlins, Uggla’s arrival in Atlanta was celebrated prior to the 2011 season. In his first five seasons he had 154 HR and 465 RBI – no season with less than 27 HR and 88 RBI. He was a very consistent player. It’s been anything but as a Brave. Outside of getting red hot over a two-month stretch in 2011 he has basically been worthless. Towards the end of the 2013 season when he hit .179, he wasn’t even hitting the occasional HR anymore. He was like that kid on your Little League team who always struck out, and you just hoped he would walk – and that’s about all he was good for….walking. Elliot Johnson who was signed off waivers in August took his spot on the playoff roster starting all Division Series games at 2B.

So can Dan revive his fledgling career? After a really mediocre 2012 season (.220, .348 OB%) he actually found a way to be 40 points worse in batting average and OBP in 2013. Is there any hope?

I don’t know. It can’t really get any worse, right?

Dan Uggla is a good guy. He hustles, he tries. But, I mean, for $13.2 million that’s not even close to enough. That’s what you ask from 12 year-olds, not Major League Baseball players. Uggs has to step it up plain and simple.

He has to find a way to curb the ridiculous amounts of strikeouts. He’s never had less than 120 K’s in a season throughout his career, but it’s gotten to be really bad. From a strikeout every 3.8 ABs in 2011 to every 2.6 ABs in 2013. He has a good eye for the baseball, as evidence by his propensity to get bases on balls, but he swings and misses a ton. Part of it is trying to crush the baseball into oblivion. Hopefully he has worked on being more of a contact hitter and letting the home runs come to him.

Everyone hopes Dan can turn it around. At this point any positive contribution will be a bonus. His spring training will likely determine if he goes into the year as the starting 2nd baseman or if he’ll platoon/be a backup. Fredi Gonzalez may determine that a solid defender at second is better for the team and sacrifice that position offensively because Uggla’s D isn’t anything to write home about. The Braves are paying him to not only be a starter but be a major factor in the lineup, however, he sort of is what he is in 2014 and we just have to live with it.

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  • fireboss

    Dan’s whiff rate on fastballs and sinker has gone up every year since he became a Brave In 2010 his sinker whiff rate was 9.96, in 2011 15.98, in 2012 17% and last year 27.53. His fourseam was up to 25.96% up from 20 in 2012 and 19.45 in 10 . In short he is not catching up with good fastballs anymore. Not sure how you fix that.

    • carpengui

      Unless it truly was his eyes… but he’s gonna have to see a ton of pitches in Spring to see if it’s fixable, because a problem like that building up over 2-3 years doesn’t get better that quick either.

      • fireboss

        He didn’t have a whiff rate under 23% on anything and all were up. His bat speed is down and unless he changes his approach to the hit streak swing and stops swinging for the fences as he has all his career improvement is unlikely. Best projections are a 520 ops

  • Matthew Jones

    One thing that Chipper Jones always tried to teach other players was to drive the ball to the outfield rather than hit homers. This was something that he picked up from Willie Stargell back when Pops was the hitting coach for the Braves in the early 90s. Perhaps someone should give ole Dan the same idea once again.

    Randomly thinking here, too – saw the Rangers GM is looking for starting pitching depth. Do they have any sort of pieces that we’d take back from them in exchange for a starter plus Dan Uggla? Thoughts?

    • fireboss

      They have some minor league pieces but they don’t have any payroll room nor do they have a place a 170 strikeouts and no position. Jon Daniels has no reason to unbalance his roster with Uggla

    • carpengui

      I’m still thinking the best/only possible landing spots are Toronto and Baltimore.

  • Lee Trocinski

    Uggla really has 3 problems, and I’m not sure which one is the worst. The obvious one is his contact rate which, as Fred says, is likely due to a longer swing. I doubt his eyes are the problem, since he was swung at better pitches (less out of the zone, more in the zone) last year than ever before. However, as Chris Davis showed, a 30% K rate does not always equal a bad season.

    When Uggla does put the ball in play, he’s not doing as much with it. His .225 BABIP was the lowest of his career, and with a poor LD rate and multitude of popups, it wasn’t very unlucky. His .183 ISO was the 2nd-lowest of his career, though his HR/FB% was back up to career norms. The lack of line drives meant a lack of doubles, which is often overlooked in production.

    This leaves us with his defense. While we didn’t expect much in this facet of the game, last year was pitiful. His wOBA last year was actually middle-of-the-pack for a second baseman, but being probably the worst defensive player at the position makes the offense seem worse.

    La Stella, Pastornicky, and Pena would probably provide more to the table than Uggla now, which is sad when none of them have double-digit HR power or above-average defense.

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