11/11/10 8:50 PM EST
Uggla's big year leads to Silver Slugger Award
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Fittingly, the 30-year-old is taking home his first Silver Slugger Award.
The Marlins' second baseman snapped Chase Utley's string of four straight seasons of winning the award. Utley, who missed time this season due to injury, finished with 16 homers and 65 RBIs for the Phillies.
Uggla established career highs in home runs (33) and RBIs (105).
His accomplishments didn't stop there. He also became the first second baseman in MLB history to reach the 30-homer plateau four times. He happened to do it in four straight seasons, which also is a franchise record for a player at any position.
Considering how much power Uggla flexed in 2010, it is not surprising that it translated into his first Silver Slugger Award, which was announced on Thursday night on MLB Network.
"This definitely means a lot because we all put in a tremendous amount of hard work in the offseason, and continuing on to Spring Training and the season," Uggla said. "To win this award, it's just been crazy because there are so many good second basemen in this business."
NL SILVER SLUGGER WINNERS
|C||Brian McCann, Braves||4|
|1B||Albert Pujols, Cardinals||6|
|2B||Dan Uggla, Marlins||1|
|3B||Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals||2|
|SS||Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies||1|
|OF||Ryan Braun, Brewers||3|
|OF||Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies||1|
|OF||Matt Holliday, Cardinals||4|
|P||Yovani Gallardo, Brewers||1|
Uggla topped all MLB second basemen in home runs. Robinson Cano of the Yankees, the American League's Silver Slugger recipient, and Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks each had 29.
In RBIs, Uggla's 105 were second at his position to Cano's 109.
Presented by Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball, Silver Slugger Awards are given to each position in both leagues. Managers and coaches select the winners.
"He was just fun to watch," Marlins hitting coach John Mallee said. "The thing I was impressed with from what I saw in the second half was, with two strikes and runners in scoring position, he put the ball in play. He cut down a little bit, and really tried to drive those runs in. He didn't try to hit home runs. He tried to get hits.
"It didn't appear that he was trying to hit home runs. It just appeared that he was trying to get a pitch he could handle and put a good swing on it. When you have power, the more you hit home runs when [your swing] is on time. He tried to stay and be on time. And he would sacrifice himself to help the team win, which was impressive for [a] guy who put up those kinds of numbers."
Uggla was the Marlins' most durable and consistent player in '10, appearing in a team-high 159 games. The club finished with an 80-82 record, good for third place in the NL East.
As Uggla celebrated winning for the first time, Florida's three-time All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez had his string of winning two consecutive Silver Slugger Awards stopped by the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki.
Ramirez's chances of extending his streak diminished when he missed several weeks in September due to left elbow inflammation. Tulowitzki paced all NL shortstops in home runs (27) and slugging percentage (.568).
In their history, the Marlins have had five different players collect eight total Silver Slugger Awards. Gary Sheffield (1993, 1996), Miguel Cabrera (2005-06) and Ramirez (2008-09) are multiple winners. Mike Lowell (2003) won the other.
Although Uggla was bypassed for the All-Star team, he emerged as the premier power-hitting second baseman in the NL. Uggla's 154 home runs not only are a Marlins all-time record, but they also are the most by any second basemen in the game since he broke into the league in '06.
Fittingly, Uggla's .508 slugging percentage topped all second basemen in the league. Uggla's numbers were impressive across the board, as he added 100 runs scored while batting .287. He improved his all-around game, and it was reflected in his .369 on-base percentage and .877 OPS.
"I figure the more experience you get in this league, it can only benefit you," he said. "My whole career, I've been trying to learn each and every year. This year, I really started putting it together. Bringing my average up. Bringing my strikeouts down. Doing a better job and not wasting as many at-bats as in the past."
Durable and dependable, Uggla was the Marlins' top power threat all season. On July 31 at San Diego, he belted his 143rd career homer, which broke Mike Lowell's franchise record. Uggla's 33rd homer came in the final game of the season.
Uggla will enter 2011 ranked 21st all-time in home runs by a second baseman. He is one behind Davey Lopes for the 20th spot. Jeff Kent's 377 homers are the most by a second baseman. Kent and Rogers Hornsby (301) are the only second basemen in MLB history to top 300 homers.
If Uggla reaches 30 homers again in '11, his total would soar to 184, which would be tied with Charlie Gehringer for 14th in league history.
"The power has always been there," he said. "But the average has been spotty. The consistency of putting the ball in play has been spotty. To put it all together and be a lot better this year was a huge deal in winning this thing."