Can Dan Uggla Turn His Ugly Season Around?

May 18, 2011


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We all know Dan Uggla isn’t going to win a batting title anytime soon. Sure he hit .282 as a rookie and .287 in his last year with the Marlins, but in between he hit .245, .260, and .243. There year his average is south of .200.
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Through 44 games Uggla is hitting .196 with 19 runs, seven home runs, 15 RBI, and a stolen base, which puts him on pace for a .196-70-26-55-4 season. The home run total is not bad, but it is short of the 30.8 he averaged in his first five years in the league. His run and RBI totals are even further below average.
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Obviously you can’t just cut him, but should you cut your losses and try to move him based on his name value alone?  On the flip side, if you don’t own him should you put a feeler out to see what his asking price is?
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I choose the latter. I have Uggla in one of my leagues and I am holding firm on him.  In other leagues I will make a play for him. After all, there are signs that suggest things will get better.
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Though the end results are nothing to brag about, he has had a slight improvement in May. He entered the month hitting .194. He has hit .200 this month to raise his average two points. His on-base percentage was .250. His May OBP is .304 to raise it twenty points. His OPS was .629. His May OPS is .671 to raise it sixteen points.
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He’s also striking out less than he has the past four seasons. His 22.0 percent strikeout rate is still high, but it beats the 25.3%, 26.6%, 32.2%, and 26.4% rates he’s posted 2007-2010. No, it doesn’t help his batting average, but it is a positive sign.
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Uggla has been unlucky. His BABIP is .210. Even with this year’s mark bring down his average, his lifetime BABIP is .297. With a track record of a much higher BABIP, one would think his luck would eventually work in his favor.
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It’s also worth noting that March/April has been the worst month throughout his career. His average before May is .238 and .265 from May on.
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At this point you’re probably hoping for a .240-.250 average at best for Uggla. While it’s not desirable, it sure beats one south of the Mendoza Line. Maybe he’s pressing to prove himself to his new teammates. Maybe it’s just taking him a little longer than expected to adjust to his new team and city. It’s typically taken Uggla some time to heat up. The power is still there. If you can swoop in and nab him before the average returns, you’ll be able to reap the benefits when it does.
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