Considering the amount of time that Yasiel Puig missed in 2015, as well as the lack of production at the plate, you would understand if people were skeptical of the new-look right fielder. So far this season, Puig has hustled out of the box on everything. If he gets hit or walked, he sprints to first base. The Los Angeles Dodgers have to be thrilled with the maturation process he’s undertaken.
Puig is no longer the wide-eyed, flying by the seat of his pants 22-year old superstar that was attempting to make every play possible while stretching the boundaries and limitations on the baseball field. He’s now a 25-year old, and he seems to be taking everything seriously now. You have to love him for it, and you have to love the process of it all.
“I know I’m getting older, more experienced. I’m more mature now,” [Yasiel Puig] said through an interpreter. “And a contract is coming up so I know I have to have the discipline in order to get a better one.”
The contract issue is very telling. Is this all for show because he could be eligible for a contract extension, or arbitration, after this season? No one knows. And, quite frankly, it shouldn’t matter. What matters is that he’s giving it his all every single day that he’s on the field, and he’s playing with the fire and passion of someone who wants to succeed.
In 2016, Puig is hitting .356 and has a .442 on-base percentage. He’s OPS’ing .976 in 52 plate appearances. He’s also posting the lowest strikeout rate of his career, and his average exit velocity is up to 92.3 miles per hour. It was just 90.4 last season. Puig is playing harder, hitting the ball harder, and has energized the Dodgers once again. The maturation of Puig might be the story of this season so far.