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Deep Pickups 4/17: Hitters

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Dan Uggla - 2B, ATL

A brief glance at Uggla's stats over the past four years makes one thing very clear: this is a player who's been in heavy decline. Since 2010, his final season with the Braves, Uggla's batting average has dropped from .287 to .233 to .220 to .179. Meanwhile, his strikeout rates have steadily risen, to a point where last year his bloated 31.8 percent mark was third-highest in the majors.

So, making contact has increasingly been a struggle for Uggla, and that's taken a toll on his batting average. But through it all, he has continued to keep his on-base percentage afloat by drawing tons of walks (62-plus in seven straight years) and his core skill has remained intact. That, of course, is his immense power.

Since he debuted with 27 homers in as a rookie in 2006, Uggla leads all MLB second basemen with 231 dingers. Robinson Cano ranks a distant second with 190. Uggla has averaged 29 home runs per year in the big leagues and last year he went deep 22 times despite scuffling overall with a 671 OPS.

That enduring pop, along with a hefty $13 million salary, explains why the Braves continue to stick with Uggla through the struggles. This year the second baseman was off to another slow start before going off for two homers, including a grand slam, on Monday.

That's certainly the type of thing Atlanta was hoping to see from Uggla, especially after he enjoyed a very productive spring in which he hit four homers, drove in 14 runs and put up a 941 OPS in 22 games.

Even if the breakout game doesn't set Uggla on a hot streak and he reverts to the high-strikeout, low-average profile that has been his recent norm, he'll still be a solid asset in deep leagues because he provides tons of power at a position where that can be hard to find.

David DeJesus - OF, TB

DeJesus has moved around quite a bit in recent years. After spending the first eight seasons of his career in Kansas City, he went to Oakland in 2011, then latched on with the Cubs in 2012 and split 2013 between Chicago, Washington and Tampa. His solid finish at the final stop likely helped convince the Rays to keep him around in 2014.

Over the course of his career, DeJesus has generally been a solid player but he hasn't offered a particularly fantasy-friendly skill set. As an outfielder, he doesn't offer a ton of power (88 homers and .416 SLG in 1,287 games) and despite his proficiency in center he's not especially speedy; he's never topped 11 steals in a campaign.

What DeJesus has been able to do is hit for a decent average with solid plate discipline, and that's why the Rays are entrusting him as their primary leadoff man. After posting a .357 batting average in spring training, the 34-year-old has started and led off in seven of Tampa's first 15 games.

Thus far he hasn't hit much -- batting .156 with three extra-base hits in 11 total games -- but a long track record of effectiveness at the plate suggests he'll get it going. Batting near the top of a lineup that features Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Wil Myers should put DeJesus in a good position to put up numbers if he's getting on base, but because he doesn't contribute in a ton of categories he'll need to draw somewhat regular playing time to be any kind of asset.

For now, he's probably going to have a tough time finding his way into the lineup against many lefties, but he should be playing against most righties and if his bat gets going he'll be helping his case for increased time.

If you need help in the outfield, he's a solid, experienced vet who frequently hits atop a pretty good lineup.

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.