Dan Uggla tends to be a rather polarizing player. The people who like him really, really like him. The people who are not as high on him may not “hate” him, per se, but they devalue him based on the potential for a low average. The question is if some people underappreciating the skill set that Uggla brings to the table?
Before we can fully answer that question, let’s take a look at what he accomplished in 2010:
589 At Bats
.287 Batting Average (169 Hits)
33 Home Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.369 On Base Percentage
.508 Slugging Percentage
.330 Batting Average on Balls in Play
It is clear that the power he showed is extremely realistic. Over the past four seasons he’s posted years of 31, 32, 31 and 33. You just don’t get that type of consistency from most players. Now in Atlanta, is it possible that he gets a little bit of an uptick in his power production?
Let’s take a look at how he’s produced at Turner Field the past few years:
- 2008 – 31 AB, .484, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 12 R, 1 SB
- 2009 – 34 AB, .353, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 7 R, 0 SB
- 2010 – 35 AB, .343, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R, 0 SB
Those numbers are certainly encouraging and helps make you believe that his numbers across the board could improve. Over the past three years he has hit a home run once every 14.3 AB at Turner Field. In 2010 he was at a home run once every 17.8 AB.
In other words, yes, he could easily see a slight increase in home run production, though I wouldn’t expect it to be by a huge amount. If you think he is suddenly going to become a 40-45+ home run hitter, it’s not likely going to happen. I could easily see him hitting in the 36-37 range, however, but that’s about it.
So, the power is likely going to remain consistent, with the potential for a little bit of improvement. He also could easily maintain his RBI total from ’10, as he will be hitting in the middle of the Braves lineup along with Jason Heyward and Brian McCann.
Assuming he is hitting fifth, the runs will likely fall. Still, you have to think that he’ll be in the 85+ range, more than enough to be considered usable. In 2010, there were only six second baseman who had at least 80 runs scored (five of which actually reached 100).
The major question comes with his average, where he has struggled in the past. Last season he posted a solid mark, though it came courtesy of a lucky BABIP. In fact, since his debut in 2006 he has traded strong years with poor years:
- 2006 – .282 (.309 BABIP)
- 2007 – .245 (.279 BABIP)
- 2008 – .260 (.320 BABIP)
- 2009 – .243 (.274 BABIP)
- 2010 – .287 (.330 BABIP)
What makes us think that he’s going to replicate a .280 average? The problem is that he could just as easily regress to .250 or worse, as he has consistently shown throughout his career. When you strikeout over 25% of the time (he’s at 26.0% for his career, though has had a year as poor as 32.2%), you always run that risk. If the luck isn’t there, his average is going to suffer.
Put it all together and you get the following projection from me for 2011:
.263 (151-575), 34 HR, 90 RBI, 90 R, 3 SB, .299 BABIP, .356 OBP, .496 SLG
If he didn’t strikeout quite as much, there wouldn’t be a debate about Uggla (my projection has him with a 26.09% strikeout rate). It would just be a given that he was one of the elite players in the game. However, the strikeouts are always going to hang over him, allowing people to knock him down a notch or two.
However, the power alone makes him a Top 5 option at a weaker position. He’s consistently proven that he us a 30+ HR hitter and, now that he is in Atlanta, he could even improve on that mark. I can understand being scared off based on the average (at least the potential for a poor average), but as long as he hits .260 or better he’s not going to hurt you there.
Don’t be scared off, he’s a player to target in all formats.
Which side of the fence do you fall on when it comes to Uggla? Is he a player you love or hate? Why do you feel as you do?
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Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections: