As the All Star break is upon us we take a look at some players that need to step up big time for their teams in the second half of the season in order for them to make the playoffs and make a run deep into October and November.
Braves second baseman Dan Uggla
Dan Uggla, Braves: Uggla was the most disappointing player in the NL through the first half of the season. The former Marlin is supposed to make almost 10 million this year but is playing like a minimum salary player at the plate. Uggla is coming off of a season where he was hitting .287 with 33 homers and drove in 105 runs but this year the second baseman has batted an atrocious .184, over .100 worse than last season, .258 OBP and has drove in only 33 runs on 14 homers. The Braves are 3.5 games back on the Phillies in the East but lead the Wild Card race. I expect the Braves to make the postseason but if they want to make a deep run they need their 2B to step it up a notch, or two.
Francisco Cordero, Reds: The Reds closer blew another save against the Brewers and has started to struggle lately. The reliever is scheduled to make 12 million, highest on the Reds payroll, but may be headed to the minors with the way he is playing. The Reds need every game possible to climb back in the NL Central race and if Cordero is giving them away in the the ninth then they can't afford to have him on the roster.
Edison Volquez, Reds: The former All Star pitcher has been struggling all season and even spent some time down in the minors. His ERA is sky high at 5.93 and is 2nd in the league in walks with 55. Volquez seems to have really lost his control of the ball and is pitching all over, as shown by his 55 walks. If the Reds want to succeed the rest of the season and become back to back NL Central Champs they will need Volquez to gain control back on his throws while keeping his velocity.
Zack Greinke, Brewers: The former Cy Young award winner is struggling in his first season with the Brewers. Greinke has an extremely high ERA, 5.45, and hasn't had the quality starts like the Brewers wanted to see. Greinke seems to behaving nice control with only 16 walks to 99 strikeouts but something is defiantly off this season for the ace. In previous years he had been getting players handcuffed and in trouble more than he is this year. The Brewers need to have him get that "it factor" back over the break if they want a playoff appearance in the hotly contested NL Central.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies: The Rockies seem to always make a late season run but it seems to never be enough as they fall short of the playoffs or get knocked out in the NLDS year after year. The Rockies have the offensive firepower with Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and the aging Todd Helton at the plate to get it done but the pitching is questionable in Denver. The Rockies ace has fallen off the map after an outstanding season last year with 19 wins a 2.88 ERA and even started in the All Star game for the NL. This season Jimenez's stats have been non ace like with a 4-8 record and a 4.14 era, his worst in 4 years.The Rockies as is are 8.5 games back in the NL West but if they want to make that run and advance in the post season they need Ubaldo Jimenez to become the Ubaldo Jimenez from last season and step up his game on the mound.
Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff, Giants: Some of the offensive fire power from last years World Series Championship team have fallen down a deep hole and are trying to swing their way out. Huff has been more productive with driving in 44 runs and hitting 8 homers but still has a pathetic .236 average and a less than mediocre .290 OBP. On the other hand Burrell has just been more than useless at the plate while batting .234 hitting 7 homers and only bringing in 21 runs. The Giants are still one of the best pitching teams in the MLB but these two, and others, need to step up at the plate so that the Giants can try and defend their title as World Series Champs.