What's that? Dan Uggla had a terrible first half of 2011, and no one should be happy with that? One would be correct in saying so, but that would miss the point that the Atlanta Braves should still be thankful for Uggla's 2011 as a whole.
Yes, the Braves shipped off the valuable utility man Omar Infante to the team formerly known as the Florida Marlins. Yes, Infante was coming off a career year in 2010.
But so was Uggla.
Uggla's .287 average in 2010, coupled with 33 homers and 105 RBIs, earned him a Silver Slugger and cemented fans' outlook on his acquisition as something of a savior for the Braves offense. Whether he wanted to or not, Uggla's dismal first half reminded us that he is indeed human.
So, should the Atlanta faithful be happy with the fact that Uggla's average stood at .173 on July 4? By no means, but they should be thankful for how Uggla dramatically turned around his season by starting a 33-game hit streak the next day.
Braves fans should be thankful that throughout his struggles, Uggla never jogged down the line on a weak groundball, like what Yunel Escobar may have done. They should also be thankful that Uggla played 161 games all year. The man wanted to play ball, and he played the right way, even when things were rough.
There are also 36 home runs – a career high for Uggla and a team high – along with a .296 average after the All-Star break. There is also the fact that without Uggla's .340 average in the month of August, the Braves may not have still had a chance to secure a Wild Card spot on the final day of the season.
Uggla's bat may have cooled off in September, along with everyone else's, but his positive attitude showed tremendous leadership for a young Braves club that saw Jason Heyward struggle all year. Uggla also had a bit of a bromance with Freddie Freeman, which, along with the influences of Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, must have shown Freeman how to play like a Major Leaguer.
As a whole, Braves fans should be thankful for Uggla's 2011. It may not show up in all the stat lines, but he provided a mindset on which the Braves can build in 2012. Afterall, the Braves' output in September was practically what Uggla did for three months, so he can probably relate.
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