Dan Uggla is a baseball player. He might be a quickly worsening baseball player, but he is a player none the less. The list of good things Dan Uggla is capable of accomplishing on the baseball field gets shorter with each passing day.
At this point, in 2013, “hit a home” and “draw a walk” are really the only positive baseball outcomes to comprise that list. He does those two things quite well and that is about it.
To date, Dan Uggla has done the former 13 times and the latter 36 times. Each of those ranks him second on his team, the high-scoring Braves who seem to take his personal “Three True Outcomes” approach of as their team-wide ethos.
The list of things Dan Uggla does poorly grows longer by the minute. “Make contact” and “play defense” are chief among them, as his .193/.322/.421 line and barely above replacement level value suggests. The first item partners with a swing which produces a lot of fly balls and puts Dan Uggla on the path to notoriety.
Despite hitting 13 home runs, Dan Uggla has just 17 extra base hits on the season. Total. 13 home runs, two doubles, two triples. Which is where history and, hopefully, destiny stroll onto the stage.
Dan Uggla has two doubles this season. Two. He’s come to the plate more than 200 times, hit 13 home runs, doubled twice. If you’re on “on pace” kind of person, this puts him “on pace” for around six, maybe seven, doubles this season.
Should Dan Uggla carry on at this rate, he’ll join an exclusive club – let’s call them The Kingmen, after Dave Kingman. The patron saint of homers or GTFO guys, Dave Kingman famously (not famously) hit 37 home runs in 1982 but managed only nine doubles. NINE!
Knocking more than 25 home runs while hitting 10 or fewer doubles isn’t common but The Kingmen does have 15 members, including Mark McGwire who hit 29 home runs and only four doubles in 2001, playing in just 97 games in his final pro season.
But McGwire, like Kingman, was a first baseman. A DH really, but in the National League. Most Kingmen are first baseman or designated hitters with the odd catcher thrown in for good measure. Not Dan Uggla, he is a MIDDLE INFIELDER.
In the grand history of the game, only four Kingmen roamed the fields beyond first base and out from behind the plate. Only four souls managed to hit 25 home runs and knock fewer than 10 doubles while expected to patrol a position of some defensive significance.
|2||Wily Mo Pena||.268||26||10||2004||22||CIN||364||87||1||66||22||1||108||7||5||2||.259||.316||.527||.843||98/7|
All four of these men patrolled the outfield, bringing their particular brand of fall-down range to the vast green outfields of history. Not Uggla, he’s an infielder. A middle infielder! He calls Jason Kipnis, Dustin Pedroia, and Marco Scutaro contemporaries at the keystone bag. This is not normal.
Dan Uggla is not alone in pursuit of the Kingmen Crown. Pedro Alvarez, a fellow infielder, has 13 home runs and three doubles so far this season, so joining the Kingmen is not out of the question for the Pirates very large third baseman either.
Let’s be honest, it is unlikely either of these two players will keep up this unlikely pace all season. Both ZiPS and Steamer project Uggla to hit a dozen doubles between now and the end of the season, mostly by accident. Alvarez projects to smack between 13-15 by most available systems. A few lucky bounces — or unlucky, if we’re talking about fly balls scraping the wrong side of the outfield fence — and they’re both free of Kingman shame.
While we’re being honest, let’s admit that both Uggla and Alvarez are first basemen at heart, or at least first basemen-in-waiting. Just because positional squeezes keep them from lining up at their rightful home, doesn’t mean they aren’t slow guys with limited range in their heart of hearts. That, my friends, is where true Kingmen are made.