There was a decent bit of optimism surrounding Dan Uggla heading into the 2012 season.
He was coming off a disastrous 2011 season, but had managed to partially salvage it with a 33-game hitting streak from July 5th to August 14th , and a .237/.343/.454 triple slash line from the end of the streak until the end of the season.
That optimism proved to be misplaced, as Uggla struggled to find any power at the plate in 2012.
While the 32-year old second baseman saw a large uptick in his walk rate to a career high 14.4% (from 9.2% last year), Uggla's power vanished and his strikeout rate skyrocketed to a whopping 26.7%.
That strikeout rate ties him with B.J Upton for the tenth highest rate in all of baseball on the year. All in all, Uggla finished the year at .220/.348/.384 with career lows in ISO (.164), wOBA (.325), and wRC+ (103). He also hit just 19 home runs, a career low as well.
Taking a look at his batted ball profile, it's pretty easy to see why Uggla is struggling to have success at the plate. A high strikeout rate doesn't preclude a hitter from having success, but combine that with a 16.9% infield fly-ball percentage, and that's a recipe for disaster at the plate.
At his worst, he looked to be attempting to pull everything while trying to crush every pitch no matter the location. There's always been a large amount of swing and miss in his game, but this year's version of Uggla was having to do so even more to attempt to achieve lift and power on balls he came into contact with.
The on-base average is nice, but Uggla has to be providing pop to continue to provide value.
So, what does Atlanta have with Uggla going forward? Good question.
The worry has to be that Uggla has started hit his decline phase, and will continue to see his power numbers dwindle in the next couple of seasons. Already a poor defensive player, the power is really Uggla's only remaining calling card.
Once that goes, he doesn't have much of anything going for him. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Uggla still has 3 years and $39 million left on his contract.
Just like Jason Heyward did last off-season, Uggla would do well to huddle up with hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher to look and see what can be seen on video, and then fixed mechanically.
On defense, advanced metrics liked Uggla this year, and had him as slightly above average with the glove. I still saw him as a below average defender, as the range just isn't there.
Looking ahead to next year, Uggla will need to make some sort of adjustment at the plate. Whether it was just another lost season at the plate, or the start of the downside of the aging curve, the Braves have too much money committed to him to not get any production from him.
He was a 3.5 win player according to Fangraphs' wins above replacement, but much of that value occurred early in the season, and was boosted by favorable marks from defensive metrics.
Uggla will be one of Atlanta's biggest questions marks heading into the 2013 season, and it's abundantly clear that the Braves need more from Uggla with the bat than they got in 2012.