Dan Uggla: Atlanta Braves' Struggling Slugger Should Be Benched

Chris Kirschner@@ChrisKirschnerContributor IJune 9, 2013

Dan Uggla being in the everyday lineup is hurting the Braves.
Dan Uggla being in the everyday lineup is hurting the Braves.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The highest-paid Atlanta Brave, Dan Uggla, needs to be benched.

The slugger is hitting a meager .183 with 10 home runs and 22 RBI as of June 8. What is most alarming about Uggla's statistics are his strikeouts. Through 56 games he has 76 strikeouts in 191 at-bats. He is striking out in 33.3 percent of all plate appearances, or every 2.5 times he steps in the box.

He is hurting the Braves by being in the lineup. 

So why does manager Fredi Gonzalez continue to put Uggla in the lineup? It’s a simple answer: money. Uggla is making $13 million, and to have a man making that much money on the bench would be ludicrous.

But if Gonzalez were to base his decision strictly off of the statistics, Uggla would have a warm seat on the bench.

The most important statistic in Sabermetrics, or advanced statistics, is WAR (Wins Above Replacement). It measures the amount of wins a player added to the team compared to that of a replacement player. 

With Uggla in the lineup, his WAR is minus-0.5. This means every time he is starting at second base he is negatively affecting the Braves. 

The main reason why Uggla continues to be placed in the lineup is his potential ability to produce runs. But this season he is only driving in 11 percent of all baserunners, a career-low. 

His fielding statistics are also at a career-worst. He has nine errors with a fielding percentage of .965.

The Braves do have some options to replace Uggla.

Ramiro Pena is hitting .314 in 45 games, but he only has three homers and 14 RBI. That, however, is still better than Uggla when you look at the percentage of all baserunners who score when Pena is in the box. Pena drives in 17 percent of all baserunners, compared to Uggla's 11 percent. 

Pena also reaches base 37 percent of the time, whereas Uggla only reaches 31 percent. 

Tyler Pastornicky is currently in Triple-A with the Gwinnett Braves, where he is hitting .318 with 21 RBI;  he is currently second on the team with 31 runs.

I believe Pena should be in the lineup, but only time will tell if statistics outweigh Uggla's mega five-year, $62 million contract, forcing Gonzalez to find a better option for the Braves lineup.