Dan Uggla's statistics were ghastly to start the 2011 MLB season. From May 17th through July 25th (over two months), the Atlanta Braves second baseman's batting average was below the Mendoza line. Although many players have been known to start slow and pick up the pace as the season intensifies, Uggla's season horrified Braves fans and fantasy owners: during the month of May, the two-time All-Star hit .160 with only two homers and seven RBI. For even an average player, these stats could be regarded as sub-par.
But for a player who was considered one of the top pick-ups of the winter after an inter-division swap between Atlanta and the Florida Marlins? These statistics are humiliating for a 62-million-dollar man. Uggla struggled to prove his worth in any category: power hitting, control hitting, or fielding. But on July 5th, things started to turn around.
Call it whatever you'd like: a twist of fate, a return to his former state, a surge of patriotic motivation following a celebration of independence. Whatever it was, it changed Dan Uggla's historically terrible team. In fact, he now has a chance to break the greatest record of all time.
On July 5th, 2011, the Braves second baseman got a hit—two, in fact.
And since that day, he's never looked back. In every game since July 5th, the underachiever has become an overachiever; in every game since July 5th, Dan Uggla has recorded at least one hit.
Now, at 32 consecutive games with a hit, the once-questioned batter is chasing history.
While some may see hitting streaks as insignificant, New York Yankees CF Joe DiMaggio has held his record at 56 straight games for 70 years, and no one has come within 10 games of catching him. Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier's 30-game hitting streak from earlier in the 2011 season is no longer the most recent news in the pursuit of DiMaggio's title.
Only 24 players in MLB history have ever reached a 32-game hit streak, and of those, only seven have done it in the last 50 years.
If Dan Uggla can continue this streak for just four more games, he'll secure himself in the top 10 all-time longest hitting streaks. But the real history, the real record that everyone talks about, is DiMaggio's pedestal. Only Pete Rose has even come near it since the mark was set, and even he was 12 games short.
Even if the Braves second basemen doesn't get a hit in his game today, he's already in the books with the longest hit streak in Atlanta's history.
Chipper Jones, third baseman for the Braves and a personal friend to Uggla, lends his support:
"We're all hanging on every at-bat, hoping he gets it out of the way early."
But it's more than just the Atlanta's dugout hoping he can nab another hit in every game; all eyes follow his every at-bat, because everyone wants a chance to witness history.
As the old saying goes, it's not how you start...it's how you finish. While Dan Uggla may have started poorly, his game finally seems to be picking up and heading in the right direction.
And he definitely isn't finished yet.