Dan Uggla was a power-hitting second baseman when they were hard to come by.
The Florida Marlins and Dan Uggla got together by way of the rule 5 draft in 2005, from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Having never set foot above the double-A level before that date, the Marlins were putting a lot of faith in the untested Kentucky native.
Uggla was a 5’11”, 190 lb. powder keg in the middle infield. Initially drafted by Arizona out of the University of Memphis in 2001, Uggla was coming off a 21 homer, 87 RBI effort with the double-A Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League in 2005.
Uggla turned 26 just prior to his rookie season with the Florida Marlins, and ended up ranking third on the team with 154 games played, behind only Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera. His home run total of 27 led a group that included Cabrera (26), Josh Willingham (26), Mike Jacobs (20), Ramirez (17), and Miguel Olivo (16). Despite his solid campaign, Uggla finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year vote, behind winner Ramirez and second place Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals. Uggla also hit .282/.339/.480 over 682 plate appearances, and made an all-star appearance as a rookie.
"To have been acknowledged by my peers in the Players Choice Awards and to finish in the top three for this award is very special. – Uggla, as quoted by Juan C. Rodriguez in the Sun-Sentinel"
Uggla continued to blast away home runs in his sophomore campaign, totaling 31 with 88 RBI, finishing just three behind teammate Cabrera in 2007. He led the team with an N.L. second 49 doubles, and ranked second with 68 walks to his credit. His .245/.326/.479 slash line featured his lowest OBP during his time with the Marlins, but was higher than all but one of his seasons after leaving the club following the 2010 campaign.
2008 would see Uggla club another 32 homers with 92 more RBI, finishing just behind Ramirez’ 33 dingers and Jorge Cantu‘s 95 RBI. For his efforts, Uggla was named to the All-Star team for the second time, entered the home run derby and ended the season with a .260/.360/.514 slash. His father was on hand for his performance in the contest.
"That, to me, is the most amazing thing going. When you think about the names of the great home run hitters over the years, and all of a sudden he’s right up there near the top? How does this happen? – John Uggla, quoted by Mike Berardino in the Sun-Sentinel"
Uggla continued to murder defenseless baseballs in 2009, slamming a team-best 31 out of the park with a Marlins-third 90 RBI and a team-best 92 walks. He played in a team-high 158 games, and hit a solid .243/.354/.459. The batting average was the lowest in his Marlins career, but higher than in any season after he left.
At the age of 30 in 2010, Uggla hit a then-career high 33 home runs for the Florida Marlins, and a still-career high 105 RBI. He also drew another 78 walks in 159 games, and led the team in each of the four categories. Uggla’s .287/.369/.508 slashline would be the best of Uggla’s career.
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On November 16th, 2010, the Florida Marlins traded Uggla to the Atlanta Braves for Mike Dunn and Omar Infante. Despite Uggla’s continued popularity, and his pre-trade 15.7 WAR over five seasons, he managed just 1.8 WAR through the rest of his career spanning five more seasons, first with the Braves then with the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals. Dunn & Infante totaled 6.5 for the Fish through their respective stays in Florida. So although the trade was unpopular at the time, it actually worked in the Marlins favor in the long run. Uggla did make another All-Star game appearance in 2012 with Atlanta, in a year where he hit led the N.L. with 94 bases-on-balls.
Uggla, who is turning 39-years-old today, is still the number two player on the Florida / Miami Marlins all-time home run leaderboard, with 154. Happy Birthday to Uggla.
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