Word all offseason has been that the Los Angeles Dodgers are comfortable banking on Yasiel Puig having a fantastic 2016 and helping the team. Well, they’re not alone on that front. ESPN Insider released an article today about the breakout candidates for this upcoming season, and the Dodgers’ enigmatic outfielder was on it.
Puig is attempting to come back from a rough 2015 where he only played 79 games due to hamstring injuries. He only hit .255, and he only slugged 11 home runs. To say he struggled at the plate would be an understatement, but there is still a ton of hope surrounding the 25-year old.
Puig’s talent is unmistakable, though. He has all the tools to be a superstar, and when he demonstrates plate discipline, he has few holes in his swing. Will his passion and aggressiveness stop him from being a star? Can he temper his off-the-field penchant for having fun so it doesn’t get in the way of his being a star?
The two questions asked by Bowden are rather sizable ones. First, his “passion and aggressiveness” have helped Puig make it this far this early, but Bowden is right in wondering if it can stop him from becoming a star. The attitude could be seen as an issue, but if Puig can turn it into justified talent, then the world is his oyster.
The second question is a bit of a loaded one. It’s never bad that athletes go out during the offseason and have fun, but doing so during the season can lead to issues. Puig is waiting word on his punishment for an offseason altercation at a Miami nightclub, so tempering his rambunctiousness off-the-field is a must.
You hear it all the time, “the sky is the limit.” With Puig, that’s certainly true. If he’s able to turn the corner in 2016 and produce a season closer to his 2013 and/or 2014 levels, then perhaps the Dodgers stand a chance to advance far in the playoffs and possibly win it all.
One thing remains certain, and that’s that they’ll need a breakout 2016 from Puig to have any hope of sustained success.