The struggles endured by Heyward, Uggla and Upton are not similar

As the Braves recorded season highs in runs and hits (16) during Thursday night’s 11-3 win over the Blue Jays, they  utilized a starting lineup that was absent Jason Heyward and their two highest-paid position players –  B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla.

After the game, manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “We’ll see” when asked if he would be tempted to continue using the same lineup.  But by the time he was done with his postgame session, he made sure to say that he is confident Heyward, Upton and Uggla will turn things around and maximize the potential of the Braves’ offense.

“I’m sure that come the end of June or July, or whatever it is, the team that’s supposed to be out there, the guys that are supposed to be out there, will be out there, because you’ve got to believe the back of the baseball cards, and they’re good players,” Gonzalez said. “It may not even be the end of June, it may be the middle of June or five days from now, who knows?”

Or it might be tonight.

While Upton might be given another day to fix the flawed mechanics and approach that have led to his Major League-worst .145 batting average, there is no way Uggla and Heyward will be left out of tonight’s lineup against Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg.   Uggla has hit .478 (11-for-23) with two homers and two doubles in his career against Strasburg.  Heyward has seven hits in 14 career at-bats against the former top overall selection.

Count me among those who have not been overly concerned with what Heyward has done since missing nearly a month after undergoing an appendectomy.  He has batted .195 (8-for-41) with two doubles in the 12 games he has played since coming back from his lengthy absence.  He has also compiled a .353 on-base percentage and hit the ball the opposite way much more frequently than he had before he was forced to undergo the emergency surgery.

Before going hitless in his past 12 at-bats, Heyward had hit .276 in the first 29 at-bats he had recorded since coming off the disabled list.  Like there was little reason to get overly-excited about those 29 at-bats, there is not any reason to get concerned the past 12.  If he continues to hit the ball to all fields and gets on base frequently, his numbers will be there in the end.

About the only thing we have definitely learned about Uggla over the past few years is that it is unwise to predict what to make of one his inspiring surges or extended slumps. Remember this is the guy who hit .173 during his first 86 games with the Braves and then spent the next 33 games setting an Atlanta record hitting streak. After hitting .276 through his first 55 games last year, he batted .185 over the 99 games that followed.

Through his first 22 games this season, Uggla batted .160 with four homers and a .625 OPS.  In the 26 games that have followed, he has batted .207 with six home runs and a .765 OPS.

Uggla does have five home runs in the 61 at-bats has totaled over his past 18 games.  But he has also hit .164 with a .288 on-base percentage during this stretch.

From July 4, 2011 until June 5, 2012, Uggla went through a 131-game stretch in which he hit .289 with 34 homers and a .934 OPS.  In the 147 games that have followed, he has batted .185 with 19 homers and a .664 OPS.

If these struggles continue, the Braves might eventually have to attempt to cut their losses by finding a team that is willing to pay at least a portion of the remainder of Uggla’s five-year, $62 million contract, which runs through the end of the 2015 season.   But now is not the time.  <p>

Uggla has hit 10 home runs this year and he led the National League in walks last year. It is not like he is a complete disaster at the plate.  Just a year ago, he was performing exactly how the Braves envisioned when they gave him the big contract.

The Braves just have to hope this proves to be the third consecutive season in which Uggla’s early-season production contrasts what he does in the season’s second half.

There actually might be reason for the Braves to be even more concerned about Upton, who is just two months into the franchise record five-year, $75.25 million contract he signed in November.  Upton’s .146 batting average and .478 OPS are the lowest marks compiled this season by any qualified Major League player.

Upton has fought frustration for more than a month.  We saw some of it unleashed on Wednesday night, when he bounced his batting helmet off the ground.  But to his credit, he has managed this difficult situation better than many others might have.

Through his first 19 games, Upton hit .160 with three home runs and a .549 OPS.  In the 26 games that have followed he has batted .133 with one home run and 36 strikeouts in 83 at-bats.  <p>

There were some encouraging signs last week when he notched a two-hit game against the Twins and then homered during the next day’s series finale.  But he has played just three games since then and in the process, he has struck out seven times in 10 at-bats.

About halfway through the Grapefruit League season, Justin Upton told his brother how impressed he was with hitting coach Greg Walker.

Now, B.J. can only hope he too will eventually benefit from Walker’s direction.  But like everybody else, he can’t assume everything is going to magically change overnight.

 

 

 

 

 

15 Comments

You know what I am for trading Heyward if it means getting Gattis playing everyday and as long it bring in a viable leadoff hitter.

It would be great to look back at the beginning of the season as the “under performing” part of the season. The braves are up 7 games and have a 20-7 record at home (best in the majors), and this is with THREE starting players below the Mendoza line.

If these three can turn it around (we should probably include Justin as a fourth, batting .200 the past 2 weeks with 18ks), who knows how good this team could be. We could be seeing magic in the making…

Also, while I’m browsing stats, phan should know that Philly attendance is down almost 200k this year, or 6700 fans per game. The only team with a worse dropoff is the Marlins with 300k… poor marlins…

Ever the optimist are you. The Phillies are only out drawing the Braves by over 8000 per game. Last night – Phillies attendance, 37,000; Braves attendance, 29,000. Priceless.

Hm… I’m not sure why you called me an optimist, I wasn’t proposing any ideas of the future, I was just stating facts. When it comes to being a fan of a team, attendance does not matter to me. Obviously, it matters financially, but it does not harm or enhance my opinion of the team when numbers are down or up.
But, it DOES matter to you. A lot. You post it constantly. You neglect to mention that the Braves are a “mid-high” market team (not even in the top 10), yet the Phillies are in the top 3. Your attendance is down around 15%, while the Braves attendance is up (granted only a modest 2%). For me, I’m happy the Braves attendance is up, but it doesn’t change much. For you, your biggest argument over the past few years is collapsing.
Oh, and while I got you here… 36-22, 7 games up.

Of course attendance matters to me because more attendance means more revenue. And, please enough of this “Atlanta is a ‘mid-high’” team. In regard to population especially, it is a “low-high team” if anything.. In fact it is ranked by OMB as 9th in the country at 5.4 million. Philadelphia is ranked only three notches higher at 6 million. Yet attendance at Phillies games far exceeds the difference in comparable area populations by almost a factor of two. It has been estimated that the decrease from 44,000 to 37000, if it persists, is going to cost the Phillies $25 million. This is still $25 million more than the Braves or about the costs of the BJ Upton and Dan Uggla, the Braves 7th and 8th hole hitters who in turn represent over 25% of the Braves payroll. In short, attendance should matter to all real fans.

Population size does not equate to market demand. You have a very simplistic view.

Let me get this straight there is no correlation between population size and market demand?

Your reading comprehension apparently needs work also. Of course population is a factor.. my point was that it’s not the _only_ factor. Basing city rank solely on population, ATL is the 40th biggest city in the US.. your 9th ranking must include other factors besides city population… or it’s just bs.
Anyway, your losing sight of the larger point. When we all want to talk baseball, you want to talk attendance as if it has an impact on the teams on the field. Attendance is not at all important to how well the Braves are playing or how well Teheran pitched yesterday.

I feel like I’m arguing with a rock.

Can anyone explain the “jersey hanging” the Braves have been doing to celebrate this year? I watch a good number of games and I’ve yet to hear an explanation… maybe I don’t get it because I’m in NYC? haha. Also, Gattis is a freaking machine!

*hitting machine… but that works too

it is going to be interesting when Beachy comes back?? Dare they try to trade Malholm and lose the depth.

I have no idea how they’ll approach this, but all I can think of is “don’t f this up… don’t f this up…. don’t f this up…”

Oh Geez , cheese steak breath , the only reason the woefull Frillies have any attendance left is because they sold tickets 2 years ago when they had “the greatest pitching staff ever assembled”. What a great ad campaign that was. Halladay on DL, Oswalt crumbling and Frilly Frans bragging because Lee has had a couple good starts in a row. How does that taste, oh 7.5 games out rascal crowd? have you guys broken .500 yet? You are still a one trick pony, turnstile brath

Weinusbreath, what would you know about attendance?

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