Dan Uggla's scowl is no longer the only thing scaring pitchers.
Consider that even after hitting in 25 straight games, Uggla's average is still .215. That is the lowest average ever by a hitter at the 25 game mark of a hitting streak by 50 points.
Yes, Uggla had been awful all year doing his best Mark Reynolds impression at the plate, with more strikeouts than base hits. Uggla began his hitting streak on July 5, with a .178 batting average. In the 25 games that followed, he has hit .350 with ten homers and 21 runs driven in.
This offensive outburst could not have come at a better time for the Atlanta Braves, whose season long patience with Uggla is finally being rewarded. The Braves traded for Uggla to complement All Star catcher Brian McCann in a lineup largely devoid of offensive firepower.
When McCann went down with an oblique injury last week, the Braves looked to be in trouble offensively. Now, with Uggla producing like the All Star he was with the Marlins, Braves fans can breathe a little easier.
McCann, can also breathe easier because he will finally have some protection in the lineup when he returns from the DL. With Uggla struggling, and no other threat to hit behind him, teams could pitch around the catcher. Now, with a viable hitter batting behind him in the lineup, McCann will see better pitches to hit.
Uggla's emergence from a season long slump makes the Braves acquisition of leadoff man Michael Bourn even more valuable. What good does having your leadoff hitter on base if no one can drive him in?
The only thing holding the Braves back in the eyes of many baseball pundits was their lack of a power hitting threat. McCann is a great player, but not necessarily a power hitter. Rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman is also having a fine season but is not a threat to go deep every time he is up to bat. Uggla's struggles all season magnified the Braves lack of a power hitter. Now, his struggles look to be a thing of the past.
The Braves have a starting rotation to rival the Phillies and Giants in the National League. Many who thought their offense would hold them back in the playoffs are starting to reconsider. Uggla's streak will probably come to an end soon, as he strikes out too often to sustain a hitting streak like this. The Braves, however do not need him to hit safely in every game.
If Uggla hits even .250 the rest of the season, that will be more than enough to make the Phillies, who currently enjoy an eight game lead over the Braves, wary of playing the tomahawk chopping bunch from Atlanta.