Gary Gramling
Thursday July 14th, 2011

There's a name for people who don't make trades during the year, but it's not fit to print on a family-friendly column. A healthy league is one with many trades, and all season long you can come here to get the kind of edge you need to get ahead (majority of advanced stats from the fine folks at fangraphs.com) ...

Dan Uggla, 2B, Braves: Dan Uggla? In 2011, it's been more like Dan Ug-bad hitter. Brilliant one-liners aside, it might be too late to get your hands on him. Anyone who's held onto Uggla for this long was surely waiting for a performance like last week's (8-for-25, three HRs, three doubles). But if you can still get him for nothing, it's time to make a move. Uggla has been terrible this year, but he's also been comically unlucky. For instance, his BABIP is .198. If Charles Schultz went through a sabermetrics phase, Charlie Brown's BABIP would be .198. Uggla's strikeout rate is 22.5 percent, right on the nose for his career rate, and while his line drive percentage (14.4 percent, career 16.4 percent) and isolated power (.179, career .219) are down, neither are that out of whack. He should be hitting in the .240s. While his career first half/second half splits are pretty even, Uggla went berserker from July 1 on last season: .308 average, 18 HRs, .925 OPS over 81 games. He's obviously not going to replicate those numbers, but he with a chance to be a borderline top five second baseman from here on in, he's worth the risk.

Mat Latos, SP, Padres: It's tough to nail down the public's perception of Latos. On one hand, he's exciting. He's huge, hard-throwing, 23-years old, and doesn't spell his name correctly. On the other hand, he's supported by a Padres lineup that's so anemic they should petition Al Selig to hit from second base for the rest of the year. But while Latos might be lucky to win five more games over the season's second half, he should at least be a three-category stud from here on in.

Latos started slowly because of some shoulder issues, but at this point he's throwing fine. And even at less than 100 percent, he's pitched much better than his 4.04 ERA would indicate. He's striking out nearly a batter an inning, and he's giving up very few well-hit balls (15.6 percent line drive rate). His tERA is actually a full run lower. Throw in a walk rate that's been right around three per nine innings over the past two months, and his WHIP should hover in the 1.15 range, not the 1.36 that it is now. San Diego will obviously be careful with him come September, but because he missed the first month of the season he could average six innings per outing over the rest of the year and finish right at the 184 innings he threw last year.

Alex Avila, C, Tigers: I like Avila. I thought he was undervalued coming out of Alabama, and once he was named the starter I thought he was undervalued coming into this season. But I also think fantasy owners have gotten the best they're going to get out of him in '11. His .349 BABIP is 39 points higher than at any level above Class-A. He's also on pace to play more than 130 games, which would be a career-high (and a boatload of games even if it wasn't). He's likely to wear down, and some of the lucky breaks are likely to go away between now and the end of the year. Considering the dearth of quality catchers (especially with Buster Posey now a gimp and Joe Mauer now the second coming of Sal Butera), you could probably net a nice return on Avila right now.

Do you have questions? Concerns? Unflinching boredom? Following me on Twitter (@GGramling_SI) won't help, but you should do it anyway.

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