Best Marlins Player (2008)

Dan Uggla

There's an obscure little footnote in baseball called the "Rule 5 draft." Let's say a Major League team has a promising player toiling away in its minor league system and never calls him up to the bigs. Opposing teams, salivating over the guy's potential, can draft him under Rule 5 — but there's a catch: they have to use him in the majors right away, making him active on their elite 25-man roster. It's a gamble. Most athletes called up this way can't handle the leap. Then there's Dan Uggla. The second baseman had been underused by the Arizona Diamondbacks (and their minor league franchise, the Yakima Bears) when the Marlins swiped him away under Rule 5. In his very first year on the team (2006), Uggla made the All-Star game and placed third in Rookie of the Year voting. Teammate Hanley Ramirez beat him out, but that's OK — the blue-eyed, 28-year old Uggla isn't the guy who hogs the spotlight; he's the workhorse who, almost daily, hammers in three runs or doubles in the bottom of the tenth to win the game. Last year, he finished the season with 31 homers, 113 runs, and 88 RBIs. This season he started off struggling, but began posting strong numbers after sportswriters slagged him off. (Haters!) And you gotta respect the way he deals with the drunken fools (Mets fans) who inevitably show up heckling, "Hey Uggla! You're Ugg-lay!" Unshakable, he usually responds by smacking a ball over the fence.


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