Yasiel Puig. Saying the name creates an emotional reaction on its own, doesn’t it?
Bringing up the name of the charismatic, polarizing, and thoroughly entertaining Dodgers right fielder yields various opinions.
The 24 year old star outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers has been a topic of conversation surrounding the team since his electric debut in June 2013. Puig’s talent and productivity has often been up there with league leaders in a multitude of categories yet he consistently finds himself in trade rumors.
When you take everything into account, though, now isn’t the time to trade him. A lot goes into that opinion, though.
First and foremost and all things considered, he might actually be the most talented position player on the Dodgers.
There are times when this guy is at the plate where you are certain he is going to get a hit. Whether he pulls a slider low and away through the 5-6 hole, or crushes a first pitch fastball into the pavilion, flipping his bat before he jogs around the bases, you get that feeling he will do something special at the plate.
You could also mention his ridiculous throwing arm. Yasiel Puig has, to my eye, the best throwing arm in major league baseball. Whether it is a base runner trying to advance from first to third, a guy trying to score from second on a single, or a runner on third tagging up, we encourage the opposition to test Yasiel’s arm. The most impressive part of Puig and his throwing mechanics is the quickness and accuracy in which he releases the ball. Puig’s throws are on target at a ridiculous rate that all base runners must be conscious of when trying to advance to the next base.
Yasiel Puig is a freak of nature, a physical specimen, and a world class athlete. While he has been on the field for the Dodgers, he has done nothing but produce. In his three years with the team, Puig has accumulated a WAR of 10.9. His career wRC+ is 136, and his defense in the outfield is consistently improving.
So what is the problem then? This Puig guy does nothing but produce when he healthy. His contract may be the most team-friendly deal in major league baseball as well.
So why is this super talented player being discussed in trades? There’s a lot about Yasiel Puig that can yield concern as well.
Puig’s fundamentals can make fans uneasy at times. You may remember the times where he would fail to hit his cutoff man trying to throw out runners in which he simply had no chance of doing so. His super aggressive style of running the bases would often lead to silly outs that could have been avoided. There are times in the outfield where it seems he may be dogging it and is caught drifting to the ball where he may have to alter his route to make up for his poor decision making.
At the plate he seems uninterested in adjusting to pitchers’ sequences thrown at him during games. He has yet to show an ability to make in-game adjustments, continuing to chase pitches out of the zone and swinging over them. Puig’s plate discipline is often questioned, and a lack of a true approach at the plate seems to be a small problem.
Yes, Yasiel has improved drastically in some of these areas. However, they still seem to peep their ugly head from time to time, and Puig’s skeptics will harp on these problems on why he could be considered a negative asset for a team.
All the things mentioned above seem to be so minute when compared to all the on field productivity Puig brings. The real issue with Yasiel Puig is what seems to be happening in the clubhouse and off the field.
There have been a number of instances reported in which Puig has been pointed out being a problem in the Dodgers clubhouse. Players have pulled Puig aside to confront him on issues he is seemingly bringing to the Dodgers organization. His personality is extremely hard for a lot to accept, and this branches out to cause a lot of problems. It is important to remember before criticizing Puig on his inability to mesh with teammates, that he only moved to this country three years ago from Cuba and is only 24 years old. He is not used to the customs and traditions of what his American teammates, who have been in the league and country longer than he, expect from him. His personality and how he may be acting in America may be totally standard in his home country, Cuba.
Just recently, Andy Van Slyke was quoted saying this of Yasiel Puig,
“This is just between you and I. When the best player — the highest paid player on the Los Angeles Dodgers — goes to the GM and … is asked what are [the needs of the Los Angeles Dodgers], this particular highest-paid player said, ‘The first thing you need to do is get rid of Puig.’ That’s all you need to know.”
Now I know what you may be thinking and it is probably what I am thinking as well: Is Andy Van Slyke a reliable source to trust saying such a statement? His son, Scott Van Slyke, is a back up to Puig. Surely one can recognize the bias Andy may have toward his son, and wishing this reportedly troubled outfielder ahead of him on the Dodgers depth chart would be moved to open up the possibility of Scott getting more playing time.
Those are brash accusations that I am making, surely. But I think they are appropriate considering the statement Andy made. His quote all but says Clayton Kershaw wants Puig off the team. Thank you, Andy. But we will let Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi make that decision. That is a discussion Clayton and the Dodgers front office did not intend for you to speak of on a radio show in St. Louis.
Moving along with Puig, some other troubling reports came out earlier last week when it was reported he had been in a fight with a bouncer at a night club in Miami. Allegedly, he and the bouncer exchanged blows and Puig had shoved his sister. It has been reported that neither Puig or the bouncer will be pressing charges, and that Puig, in fact, did not put his hands on his sister. Regardless, Rob Manfred and major league baseball will be investigating this situation at a further date as per the MLB’s new domestic violence policy.