PHILADELPHIA – Dan Uggla capped a personal worst-to-first in-season turnaround with a National League player of the month award Tuesday, and Craig Kimbrel made it a record streak of Braves NL rookie award winners.
Uggla won his first-ever player of the month honors after hitting .340 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs in August, and Kimbrel was named NL rookie of the month after converting 10 of 10 August save opportunities with 23 strikeouts and four walks in 12-2/3 scoreless innings.
For Uggla, it’s been an unforgettable ride from a career-worst first half. He lugged a league-worst .173 average on July 4, the day before he began a 33-game hitting streak in which he hit .340 with 15 homers, 32 RBIs and a 1.200 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
“Getting player of the month, that’s pretty cool,” Uggla said. “I’m appreciative of it. That’s not what I’m concerned about, individual stuff. But from the slow start to where I am right now, that’s a pretty cool accomplishment.”
He entered Tuesday with a .237 average and 32 home runs, two homers behind league leader Albert Pujols and one from matching Uggla’s career best set in 2010 with Florida.
For Kimbrel, the NL rookie award is his second in three months. He’s the 10th NL rookie to win the award at least twice in a season, beginning with Pujols in 2001.
“I’d trade both of [the awards] to help us get through the playoffs,” said Kimbrel, who led the majors with 42 saves before Tuesday. “I feel good. I feel like I’m getting stronger as the season goes on.”
Before Tuesday he hadn’t allowed a run in 37 appearances since June 14, a remarkable streak in which Kimbrel gave up 13 hits and 11 walks with 65 strikeouts in 36-2/3 innings. It’s the longest scoreless stretch in the majors this season.
The Alabama native had at least two strikeouts in each of his past 10 appearances, another major league record (for appearances lasting one inning or less). Before his current streak, the record was seven such appearances in a row in one season, shared by Kimbrel (2010), Billy Wagner (2007) and Matt Mantei (1999).
Teammate Freddie Freeman was won the NL rookie award in July, making the Braves the first NL team ever to win the award in three consecutive months. Three American League teams have also done it (Seattle in 2001, Kansas City in 2007, and Detroit last season).