Players to watch, teams to watch, free agent signings to watch, lots of things to watch. We’re watching stuff, apparently. Well, ESPN released their list of the “Sixteen players to watch this spring”, and a few members of the Los Angeles Dodgers were on it because, well, of course they were.
The two players listed from this club were outfielder Yasiel Puig and shortstop Corey Seager. Now, they were each listed for their own separate reasons, but you can understand why each one was listed to begin with. They both could have monster years, or they could have lackluster years.
From ESPN.com about Puig:
Following an injury-marred campaign in which he batted just .255 over 311 at-bats with a .436 slugging percentage that was well below his career mark of .487, a svelter Puig is looking for a fresh start under new manager Dave Roberts. The Dodgers have added roster depth this offseason in an effort to protect themselves against injuries, but a productive Puig still figures heavily into the team’s plans.
Everyone surrounding the organization, from fans to executives, is no doubt crossing their fingers in the hopes that they get a “productive Puig” in 2016. Reason being that he’d solve a lot of the issues that ailed an offense that struggled down the stretch of last season. They need his production.
Following his stellar September callup, during which he hit .337/.425/.561 in 113 plate appearances, the 22-year-old will face a lot of pressure as he tries to be a key cog on a team with the highest payroll in the game. And the performances of rookie shortstops Correa and Francisco Lindor in 2015 raised the expectations for Seager. But Seager hit .344 against lefties across the three levels he played, so there aren’t any obvious holes in his swing. And he seems likely to thrive in the spotlight.
The most impressive part about all of this is the analysis about Seager’s ability to hit left-handed pitching. It means that he’s not just a platoon player or anything like that. It signifies the greater ability of his tools that allow him to be an everyday impact player at the big league level. And that’s huge.
If you buy into it, the hopes of the Dodgers in 2016 could very well rest on the production of both Puig and Seager. You could also throw in basically every player on the team if you really wanted to. However, these two are both young enough and good enough to help the team for years.
We’ll see if they can come through and reward Los Angeles in 2016.