2015 Washington Nationals Player Review: Dan Uggla


The Washington Nationals acquired second baseman Dan Uggla in late-December 2014, signing the three-time All-Star to a minor league deal after his massive disappointment of a season two years prior. A former member of the Marlins, Braves, and Giants, Uggla’s career began bright in Miami, where he eclipsed 27 home runs in each of his first six seasons. However, after five years with the Marlins, he was traded to the Braves, where he managed two productive seasons before hitting a roadblock in his career.

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After signing a five-year, $62 million contract extension with Atlanta and making his third career All-Star appearance over the course of the 2012 season, Uggla’s numbers began to nosedive. In 2013, he posted one of the worst seasons by an every day position player in recent memory, and followed it up with a year just as miserable. The Braves released him midway through 2014, despite still owing him a surplus of $13 million. The Giants gave him a chance with a deal a few weeks later, but after going 0-for-11 in his first 12 plate appearances, he hit free agency once again.

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While the 35-year old infielder was merely acquired as a bench bat for the Nats, his season was still nothing to brag about. Uggla finished the year hitting .183/.298/.300 with two home runs, 16 RBIs, and 40 strikeouts in 141 at-bats. His WAR of -0.5, according to Baseball Reference’s calculations, ranked fourth worst among Washington position players. While the numbers are hard on his performance, Uggla was well-respected among the Nationals clubhouse and capped off the biggest comebacks in franchise history against his former team.

Uggla’s expectations walking into spring training were not very high, leaving his poor performance regrettable yet affordable. In fact, it cost one of their biggest rivals $13 million to play for D.C., so in fact still probably translates into a win for the Nats. He exits Washington for free agency once again, but his chances of signing anywhere are looking slim.

If Uggla still plans to resurrect his career elsewhere, his swing and plate discipline must improve. He was an average fielder at best, occasionally making highlight plays but with not enough consistency to be considered a good defender. Only time will tell if his luck turns over the next few years, but odds are the veteran’s career is likely over. Overall, his disappointing performance outweighs the intangibles he brought to the table for the Nats, and his grade for the 2015 season is poor as a result.