Saturday, August 13th, 2011

The Unlikely Streak of Dan Uggla

Whenever I think about long hitting streaks in Major League Baseball, only two players come to mind. One is a member of the Hall of Fame. The other one has the necessary statistics. One ranks among the baseball immortals. Without a gambling problem, the other could be, too. Those two players are Joe DiMaggio and Pete Rose. The Yankee Clipper and Charlie Hustle. Atlanta Braves second baseman, Dan Uggla, doesn't deserve comparison with those two. Since July 5, he's given us a reason.

When Dan Uggla dug in for his first trip to the plate against the Colorado Rockies on July 5, his batting average was .173 for the season. He finished with a good night at the plate. He batted 2-for-2 and added two walks. In addition, he belted his 13th home run of the season. Name anyone who suspected that he would hit his way on base safely during the next 31 games.

Back in mid-May, Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees celebrated the 70th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Joltin' Joe's streak began with a single off Edgar Smith of the Chicago White Sox on May 15, 1941. He began that game hitting .306 for the season. He walked once, but didn't hit his way on base until his final at-bat. After that game, his average dropped to .304. Of course, DiMaggio's streak continued for 56 consecutive games. After his 56th game, DiMaggio increased his batting average to .375.

Earlier this evening, Dan Uggla stepped to the plate against Randy Wells of the Chicago Cubs. His batting average reached a measly .229. Players who are batting .229 during mid-August generally don't stick around long. But, Uggla had a 32-game hitting streak on the line. During his first at-bat, he singled. The streak is now 33 games.

How far will he extend this streak? On Friday night, he established a new hitting streak record for the Atlanta Braves. The franchise record set by Tommy Holmes dates back to 1945 when the Braves called Boston home. He still trails Pete Rose's National League record by 11 games. Rose established the NL record back in 1978 while still a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

With his current 33-game hitting streak, he's matched marks set by George Davis (New York Giants, 1893), Hal Chase (New York Highlanders, 1907), Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis Cardinals, 1922), and Heinie Manush (Washington Senators, 1933). Do I think Dan Uggla will make a legitimate run at DiMaggio's record of 56? No, but I never imagined he would pass the 30 game mark. Earlier this season, Andre Ethier had a 30-game streak for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

1 Comment
Of course, one day after I blog about this feat, the streak ends. Don't worry, Mr. DiMaggio, I think your record is safe for quite some time.
Bill Pearch   Sunday, August 14, 2011
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