Uggla has consistently impressed with his character
When Dan Uggla last visited his friends down here in Miami, he was conjuring up memories of both Mario Mendoza and Dave Kingman. Now as he carries a Major League-best 28-game hitting streak, he just looks a lot more like that guy who played second base for the Marlins the past five seasons and won a Silver Slugger Award last year.
But Uggla has shown consistency this year with his actions, which have lived up to the expectations gained when Fredi Gonzalez and Frank Wren were discussing his makeup after he was acquired from the Marlins in November.
It’s long been said that you don’t truly know the character of a person until you see how they react to both adversity and success. Well in the span of his first four months with the Braves, Uggla has experienced some of the roughest days of his career and more recently some of the more enjoyable ones.
When the Braves acquired Uggla, Gonzalez described him as a guy who would leave everything he had on the field on a daily basis and prove to be accountable. There was never any reason to dispute this while the second baseman hit .173 through his first 86 games.
Uggla never answered questions about his struggles in a terse manner. Nor did he prove to be one of those players who conveniently hides from the media when things are not going well. He simply owned up to the results he was producing on the field.
Now instead of fearing superstition or distraction, Uggla is simply having fun with this 28-game hitting streak that has brought him to the halfway mark of the hallowed 56-game streak Joe DiMaggio constructed in 1941.
“There’s no way you can’t think about it,” Uggla said. “ It’s fun. I want it to continue just like everybody else does.”
That’s the kind of stuff you want to hear. If the streak ends tonight or sometime next week, nobody is going to be distraught. But if Uggla took this streak too seriously, he would be denying himself an opportunity to enjoy something he may never experience again.
The only two players in Atlanta Braves’ history with longer streaks are Rico Carty (31 in 1970) and Rowland Office (29 in 1976). Before Sunday, no other Brave had constructed a 28-game streak since Marquis Grissom in 1996.
If Uggla gets a hit in tonight’s series opener against the Marlins, he’ll enter Tuesday with a chance to become just the 46th Major League player since 1900 to record a hitting streak of at least 30 games.
This is pretty remarkable territory for a guy who recorded hits in a total of 25 games in May and June combined.
During this 28-game streak, Uggla has proven to be as dangerous as the Braves envisioned when they gave him a five-year, $62 million contract extension in January. Within this stretch, he has batted .355 with 12 homers, a .413 on-base percentage and a .727 slugging percentage.
Yeah, his batting average will never match the .263 career mark he carried into this season. But the Braves didn’t give him that contract to concern himself with trivial things like batting average. His role is to clear outfield walls and provide instant offense like he has over the past month.
Uggla leads the Majors with the seven homers and .727 slugging percentage produced since the streak started on July 5. In other words, he’s proving to be the powerful threat most of you envisioned. Within the world of sports where results trump all else, that is really all that matters.
But in the process of struggling to find consistency and constructing this 28-game streak, Uggla has proven equally impressive with a sense of accountability that only strengthens the belief that he is indeed the man Gonzalez and Wren touted him to be during the offseason.
Chipper on the Phils: Before delivering yet another dagger in the hearts of Mets fans yesterday, Chipper Jones gave this year’s Phillies bunch some lofty praise after he was asked how they ranked against some of the great Braves teams he played for in the late 1990s.
“The Phillies are as good as any team I’ve seen,” Jones said. “I’d put them up against any of those Yankees clubs of the late 90s and early 2000s. That club has got it going on and they are flat out playing like it, day in and day out.” <p>
Given the way they’ve overcome numerous injuries and put themselves on pace for 105 victories, it’s hard to dispute Jones’ assessment. Sure you might think the 1998 Yankees were better. But the fact that this year’s Phillies club is even being mentioned in that same category shows you the respect they have earned over this year.
The Braves likely aren’t going to erase the 8 1/2-game deficit they face in the division standings with just 47 games remaining, but they are in good position with a 3 1/2-game lead in the Wild Card and have already shown they can compete with the Phillies.
While splitting 12 games against the Braves this year, the Phillies have accounted for six of the 34 losses they have suffered against National League opponents this year. They have gone 59-28 and produced a.678 winning percentage against other NL teams this season.
In other words, there isn’t much reason for you to be expecting the Braves to get much help in the division race during the season’s final seven weeks.
Odds and ends: Freddie Freeman bid adieu to his 20-game hitting streak during Sunday’s finale. In the process, he continued to show why his teammates are touting him as a Gold Glove teammate with this catch.
Thanks to the loyal readers who made this blog the most visited of the ones composed by MLB.com writers during the month of July. It might be the last time something Braves-centric finishes ahead of something Phillies-centric this season.