On Nov. 16, the Florida Marlins shocked the baseball world by trading Dan Uggla. Despite all the rumors that have surrounded Uggla over the years, the Marlins had always neglected to move him. Until now that is.
Not only was the trade surprising in and of itself, but the team who the Marlins sent the mighty second baseman Uggla to was a shocker: their National League East rivals, the Atlanta Braves.
The early consensus around the baseball blogs was that the Marlins got a poor return, that they made a bad choice, and that losing Dan Uggla will hurt them in 2011.
Its easy to see why losing an offensive force like Dan Uggla would hurt a team. He is the only second baseman to have hit 30+ home runs four years in a row, and has hit 27 or higher in all five years of his MLB career.
Uggla, while not a RBI machine, has never put up fewer than 88 in a season, and he topped out at 105 in 2010. In fact, Uggla had his best season in 2010 when you look at his WAR and triple slash line.
In 2010 Dan Uggla put up 5.1 WAR (he was worth 5.1 more wins for the Marlins than a "replacement level player"), that 5.1 WAR was actually better than Hanley Ramirez's 4.4 WAR season.
Uggla put up a triple slash line of .287/.369/.508, which are all career highs except for when he slugged .514 in 2008.
However, I don't think the Florida Marlins need Dan Uggla's bat for the 2011 season. I even think that the 2011 Marlins will be better without the two time All Star, according to WAR.
In 2011 the Marlins will run out a new fourth hitter on opening day because Uggla took his bat and moved up Interstate 75 to Atlanta; that man will be phenom Mike Stanton.
In his first 100 MLB games the 6'5" 233-pound Stanton ripped 22 home runs and doubled 21 times to the tune of a monster .507 slugging percentage (.001 less than Uggla).
Before that, in double A ball, Stanton hit 21 home runs in only 53 games while slugging .729. So in 2010, Stanton hit 43 home runs in 153 games over two levels.
Mike Stanton has power that scouts have been raving about since he was drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft. Stanton is also heralded as the strongest player in the entire MLB, and the sky is really the limit for this guy.
Stanton is projected by baseball projections guru Bill James to hit 38 jacks in 2011, more than Dan Uggla has ever hit. So, I think Mike Stanton can clearly make up for the presence that Dan Uggla used to provide the lineup.
Now I know that before the trade, Dan Uggla and Mike Stanton were both Marlins, so the fish could have run both mashers out there. Which, using Bill James' projections would have produced 69 home runs.
Yet, I think, by moving Uggla, the Marlins actually will produce more wins, and a similar amount of home runs, than if they had kept him, from the positions affected by the moves.
By trading Uggla, the Marlins added Omar Infante a solid infielder, and were able to sign slugging catcher John Buck to a three-year contract and add his power bat to the fold.
So the savings that Florida got from moving Uggla, they smartly used to upgrade another position.
In 2010 Uggla was worth 5.1 WAR (his career high), but in 2010 Buck and Infante combined for 5.6 WAR, even though Buck only appeared in 118 games, and Infante only played in 134.
It took Uggla 159 games to amass his 5.1 WAR. So, if Infante appears in 150 games and Buck catches 130, they should easily beat out Uggla in terms of WAR, by a decent margin, which will result in more wins for the Marlins.
Also Infante and Buck aren't far off in the power department, as they are only projected to hit seven fewer home runs in 2011 than Uggla.
All in all, the Florida Marlins felt it was safe to trade Uggla. I agree, and think that it was the smart move.
In 2011, and for his whole future Marlin career, the 2010 "should have been rookie of the year award winner" Mike Stanton will easily produce at levels that can replace Uggla's bat in the Florida lineup.
Also, new arrivals John Buck and Omar Infante can produce more WAR, measured in wins, for the 2011 Marlins than fan favorite Dan Uggla would have, while playing better defense and hitting a similar number of long balls.