Mark Lemke never hit more than seven home runs in a season and had a career batting average of .246. Dan Uggla has hit more home runs than any second baseman in Atlanta Braves history.
So who would you take? To me, it's a no-brainer.
I'll take the Lemmer.
No, this is not another "Dan Uggla needs to go" column. It's just that every team needs that scrappy player who gives you everything he has, who plays hurt, and who comes through in the clutch.
Suppose you could build a team of all-time Atlanta Braves to play for one season. Who would your favorite players at each position be? And who would be your least favorite?
Mind you, this is not necessarily who's the best or worst, as evidenced by the Lemke and Uggla choice. I posted this question on Facebook, and not only was Lemmer a hands-down favorite at second base, but some people listed him as their favorite Brave -- period.
The criteria can vary as much as names. To me, it would be simply this: Who did I most enjoy watching play the game? Who gave it their all every single moment they were on the field? That's why Chipper Jones is not an automatic pick at third base. Oh, he gave it his all every moment of every game. But so did Terry Pendleton. And TP helped do something Chipper never had to do. Pendleton, along with Sid Bream, helped change the culture of the Braves from a team that expected to lose to a team expected to win. Other than Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, Pendleton symbolized the '91 Worst To First Braves.
So let's have a little fun to get through the long summer days. Who would you list as your favorite and least favorite Braves -- and why?
The only requisite criteria is that you have a reason. Maybe you do just want the best performers, no matter how they got it done.
In the interest of uniformity, we'll have this format. A starting eight of position players, one utility player, a five-man starting rotation, and one reliever.
My qualifications are this: Who gave it their all every game and consistently produced? So while I'd take Lemke over Uggla, I'd take Martin Prado over anyone. What's most impressive about Prado was that he came up as a fringe prospect, but he refused to accept limitations others placed on him. He just kept working harder and harder and made himself into an All-Star.
For those of us old enough to remember Felix Millan and Ralph Garr, it's not as easy as it might seem to fill out either list. In fact, in some cases, we're not even sure which team that player should be on.
Take Andruw Jones. He turned in enough highlight plays in center field to fill three DVDs. He had stretches offensively that suggested greatness. Who can forget his two home runs in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series, at a mere 19 years young? Yet there were countless times where he tried to yank a down-and-away slider into the left field upper deck.
That, by the way, is the
whole frustration with Uggla. Nobody expects him to hit .300. That's not his game. But more and more pitchers have learned that he will get himself out if they just keep the ball on the outside corner. It's not that Uggla doesn't play hard or care. He does. He just refuses to adjust.
Any way, send me your thoughts and we'll compare notes in a column down the road. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 5. Should be fun.
And whatever happened to Andres Thomas?