2013 Stats: 132 games, .278 batting average, 12 home runs, 50 RBI, 22 doubles, .769 OPS
Juan Uribe was on the cusp of being cut by the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2012 season and was relegated to the bench in 2013 in favor of Luis Cruz. Once Cruz struggled, Uribe got another chance in the final year of his three-year deal and made the most of it. He took over the third base position with strong defense and improved hitting. Uribe slowly became a productive player for the Dodgers and became fast friends with rookie Yasiel Puig and shortstop Hanley Ramirez. The three could often be seen playing in the dugout and the three began to shine on the field.
Uribe enjoyed his best season with the Dodgers, but saved the best for last. In Game 4 of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves, Uribe came up with a runner on and the team down two runs in the bottom of the eighth. After he failed to get a bunt down, Uribe was allowed to swing away with two strikes and delivered a two-run home run that would put the Dodgers ahead for good and clinch the NLDS. The 34-year-old became beloved in Los Angeles, just a few months after many were calling for his removal from the team.
In the off-season, Uribe became a free agent and was one of the top third baseman on the market after his 2013 campaign. It appeared as if Uribe was asking for too much and would be on his way out of Los Angeles, but the two sides were able to come to a deal for two years, $15 million. He’ll return as the team’s starting third baseman. Uribe’s turnaround has now made him a fan favorite and remains good friends with Puig and Ramirez, being involved in a number of pranks shown on Ramirez’s Instagram account.
This spring, Uribe has picked up where he left off in 2013, hitting .290 with two home runs in 11 games. He’s tied for the lead in home runs this spring and has yet to strikeout in 31 at-bats. The Dodgers hope he can carry that into the regular season.
2014 Outlook: This season should be another strong one for Uribe, who seems as if he has overcome his 2011 and 2012 struggles to become a solid contributor in the lineup. Defensively, Uribe should have no issue replicating his 2013 season and remain in the hunt for a Gold Glove award. Expect another season of a batting average over .275 with double-digit home runs and at least 55 RBI. Also, one should be on the lookout for more dugout and clubhouse shenanigans from the trio of Uribe, Puig and Ramirez.
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