2012 Player Projection: Dan Uggla

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Well, it looks like all the criticism of Baseball Info Solutions’ (AKA Bill James) projections being unscientific are warranted when looking at the above projections. Dan Uggla was worth 2.5 WAR last season and 2.7 WAR in 2009, with that 4.9 WAR beauty of a season sandwiched in between. Marcel, thus, seems to be bearish on Uggla’s prospects for the 2012 season, and there might be something to their projection.

The average of those six projections yields a projected 2012 WAR of 2.9 and a wRC+ of 120, which is only slightly higher than last season’s total of 2.5 WAR. The object here is to find out where Uggla’s true value is, as it is somewhere between 2.3 and 3.3 WAR. Which means that one must find out whether Uggla truly declined last season or if he was experiencing regression.

First, the luck factor. Uggla’s BABIP was down big to a meager total of .253, and this contributed to a terrible .233 batting average. His projected BABIP next year is .285, which means that he will most likely have a .250 batting average next season. His 2011 numbers were pretty close to what he achieved in 2009, except they were a little bit worse. Dan Uggla suffered from poor luck last season, but don’t expect him to be worth 4 or even 3.5 WAR next season.

Dan Uggla has never been a player with a high LD%, and it’s usually around 17%. Last season, that total went down to 15.4% and contributed to a lower BABIP. This has little to do with getting worse and more to do with luck, because line drive rates fluctuate from year to year and contribute to statistical noise.

During each of the past three seasons, the Braves 2B has been chasing more pitches outside of the zone and whiffing more often than usual. The big problem is that declining players try to over-compensate by chasing more pitches and such.

Dan Uggla was a victim of poor luck last season, but he isn’t going to get any better in 2012 due to age and decline. Look for another decent, 2.5 WAR season from Uggla with his ceiling being a 3.5 WAR season. Uggla’s floor? A league-average, 2 WAR season seems reasonable for the Braves second baseman. He’s still a solid player, but he isn’t getting any younger and his OBP is feeling that pain. However, he has a better shot at being worth more than 2.5 WAR than under 2.5 WAR .

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