Some of the notable kids in the organization are starting to heat up, and what better of a time than September.
Dan Uggla has been one of the hottest hitters in not only Atlanta, but across the Major Leagues for some time now. His 33-game hit streak was something in itself, but Uggla’s power is something that’s really taken off. ESPN’s Buster Olney predicted Uggla would hit 40 home runs in 2011 and despite his horrendous start, Uggla is inching closer and closer towards that prediction (he currently has 33 long balls in 2011).
Jason Heyward hit an especially chilly cold streak mid-season and finally looks to be nearing a breakout series. His replacement during much of that stump, Jose Constanza, has been slow to find his consistency since leaving an August matchup against Philadelphia with a sprained right ankle. Heyward hasn’t just earned playing time by default however. He’s been better at the plate and is making great outfield plays. His batting average right now still isn’t great, but Heyward has been doing a great job of getting on base. His presence at the plate is much more confident than it has been in recent weeks. He’s gone from swinging at bad pitches to remaining patient, working longer counts, and taking his walks. From a team perspective, why wouldn’t you want Heyward in the lineup? He helps run up opponents pitch counts and when his at bat is all said and done, he’s on first base more often. A walk gives your team just as much chance to score as an infield single does. The average fan might see an 0-3 game (despite 2 walks) as a bad performance for Heyward, but that’s still a .400 on-base percentage, which is pretty darn good. To put an exclamation point on his return from the fridge, Heyward needs to put together at least two solid 2-5 or better games. If he can do that, you could officially say that Heyward’s back.
While we talk about the promising young right fielder, let’s shift our attention to another talented 21-year-old in Freddie Freeman. Freeman is very hot right now. He’s been hitting for outstanding average and power over the past few weeks and is pushing his batting average closer and closer to .330, an incredibly mark for a rookie. His argument for Rookie of the Year has been neck and neck with teammate Craig Kimbrel. Comparing a first baseman and a closer is like comparing apples and oranges. Both have been fantastic, but if Freeman can continue to remain hot for another week or so, I’d give it to Freeman. Be sure to check out one of my next articles where I will fully break down the National League Rookie of the year race.
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