Juan Rodriguez of Sun-Sentinel.com wrote an article yesterday arguing that Dan Uggla is in the middle of his finest season. As a Dan Uggla owner I'm painfully aware of his current .212 average. I knew he was in the middle of a hot streak but he's STILL hitting .212! Upon further review I concluded that Rodriguez is right. Let's take a closer look.
Uggla's current line is .330/.441/.772 is down from his career .339/.484/.823 but that doesn't tell the whole offensive story. When we look at his Walk rate and Strikeout rate we see a more developed approach and excecution at the plate. Rodriguez writes,
"Uggla's percentage of pitches taken has increased from 54.6 percent as a rookie to 58.6 percent this season, according to Baseball Info Solutions. Not only is Uggla a more discerning swinger, he's offering at and making contact with more strikes.
In 2006, 66.4 percent of the pitches Uggla took were balls compared to 72.3 percent this season. As a rookie, he swung and missed 24.5 percent of the time. That figure increased each of the next two seasons to 30.5 percent in 2008, behind only Mark Reynolds (39.0 percent), Ryan Howard (34.7 percent) and Justin Upton (33.3 percent), according to Stats, Inc. This season his percentage of swings that missed is down to 24.1. Uggla is on pace to strike out 142 times after averaging 169 the last two seasons."
In May he had 16 walks to 23 Ks. The only other time his BB/K rate was that high was May '07 when he had a 1.005 OPS. But in May '09 his OPS was a measley .745. So what's the difference? All of you BABIP junkies out there are screaming at your screens. You're right, it's his BABIP. It's currently .220, well below his pre 2009 career BABIP of .300. It's been well established that individuals have their own BABIP levels. Some are higher or lower based on many factors like speed, power, and home park. But Uggla's '09 BABIP is a cool 80 points below his established level. With this said, we can expect his average to rise and if he continues to improve his BB and K rates he may have his first season with a OBP north of .380. If his Slugging % settles in at career norms we could be looking at a .880+ OPS 2nd baseman. Also, Uggla became the fastest 2nd baseman to 100 career homeruns on Tuesday night. Not too shabby for a hacking Rule 5 guy.
Let's look at a few of his more interesting HR moments of the year: