Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are Giants really losing interest in Uggla?

The most recent reports from the Giants are saying that they have lost interest in Dan Uggla. There are multiple reasons why that might be true, but it is also possible that the Giants want to see if their lack of interest will lower Uggla’s value (meaning the players any team would have to give the Marlins to acquire the slugging second baseman).
The Giants could be posturing by simply inquiring about other options. They’ve recently been talking to the Padres about Kevin Kouzmanoff as well as showing interest in Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, Nick Johnson and now Orlando Hudson. Also, they’ve been very vocal about his poor defense and how that makes him less than ideal.
The Marlins may be trying to get great value for Uggla, but it should be noted that they have been planning to move Uggla from day one of the offseason and they have multiple reasons to do so. The first reason is that he is due for a salary raise in arbitration that could have him making $7-8 M next season. The Marlins simply cannot afford to keep more than a few players with salaries approaching double-digit millions. What’s more? Late in the season Dan Uggla made comments about Hanley Ramirez’s ability to stay on the field. It was Uggla’s belief that Ramirez wasn’t giving it his all. If the Marlins put any stock into team chemistry, it’s obvious who has to go. Hanley Ramirez is one of the very very few franchise players in MLB. He is an MVP calibur, 5-tool player at a premium position, shortstop, and still just a baby. He belongs in the conversation of untouchable players – your Albert Pujols’ and Joe Mauer’s.
Uggla’s Value? This from Keith Law of
"Now is actually a great time to try to trade for Uggla as he's coming off a slightly down year in batting average that is masking a significant spike in walk rate. He's always had power, and his approach at the plate has improved for several years. If he maintains those secondary skills and posts a BABIP over .300 -- something he did twice in three years before 2009 -- oddly, he's a potential MVP candidate."
Uggla’s value is completely held within his offensive abilities. He is an average second baseman at best and that cannot be remedied. But his offensive upside is substantial. What Keith Law is essentially saying is that Uggla has become more and more patient (taking more walks and increasing OBP) over the past few seasons AND…his 2009 was somewhat unlucky which resulted in his very low batting average (which should have lowered his value for the time being). This while also averaging about 30 HR with 90 RBI per year of the past 4 seasons. What is BABIP? It stands for Batting average on balls in play. It is the % of plate appearances (not at bats) that result in a ball being put into play and resulting in a hit (excluding a HR). The equation is:
BABIP = (H – HR) / (AB – K – HR + SF)
SF is sacrifice fly… all others I presume you know. It is very difficult for a player to sustain either a very low or a very high BABIP, though some players are capable of doing so (Matt Kemp, for example, has sustained an extremely high BABIP over a few years). BABIP is a very good way to determine if a player has a batting average that is unjustly low or unjustly high. Dan Uggla had an extremely low BABIP in 2009 while between 2006-2008 he posted a BABIP above .300 in two seasons. The typical or average BABIP is about .290 -.300.
Dan Uggla – Year – (BABIP, Avg, HR, OPS)

2006 – (.315, .282, 27, .818)
2007 – (.286, .245, 31, .805)
2008 – (.323, .260, 32, .874)
2009 – (.277, .243, 31, .813)

Conclusion: Dan Uggla will be traded and for less than he is likely worth. He is still a young player and I have very good reason to believe that his 2010 statistics have a great chance of being quite impressive. Whoever acquires him will be quite pleased, so long as they understand his offense will come at a cost of some outs on defense.

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