June 3, 2013: Yasiel Puig’s Debut
Five years ago today, Dodgers fans began their wild ride with Yasiel Puig. On June 3, 2013, Yasiel Puig made his debut at Chavez Ravine against the San Diego Padres.
His debut, while highly anticipated, came with several questions. While he had put up monster numbers in the minor leagues, would they translate to the big leagues? Was this unknown commodity really worth a six-year, $42 million contract?
Scouts had compared him to Bo Jackson, Roberto Clemente and Raul Mondesi but he was still a mystery around the league.
In his first snippet of the Majors, Puig went 2-4 and displayed his cannon for an arm throwing out Chris Denorfia at first base to end the game. He followed that game by slugging two home runs the following day.
Puig wound up batting .440 through his first month with the Dodgers and his average never dipped below .300 during his rookie season. His aggressive play and bat flips made the Dodgers exciting as he led them to the playoffs. He finished his rookie season with a .319 average with 19 home runs and finish second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
— MLB (@MLB) July 1, 2013
Five Years Later
Fast-forwarding to today, we have more questions surrounding Puig than we had when he made his debut. Through his first two seasons, he looked to be the future star in Los Angeles. He made the all-star team in his sophomore year and hit .296 with 16 home runs that season.
While he dominated on the field, many criticized Puig about his immaturity. For every dazzling play he made, he would miss a cutoff man or make a careless error on the basebaths. He also had his battles in the clubhouse with Don Mattingly and run-ins with the law off the field.
Both 2015 and 2016 were characterized by disappointment for Puig. In 2015 he missed half the season due to injury and while he was on the field, he batted a mediocre .255 with 11 home runs. The following year, his production improved only slightly with a batting average of .263. He was also demoted to triple-A that year and replaced in right field by Josh Reddick.
In 2017, Puig developed power, slugging 28 home runs. Although he
only batted .263, he exhibited his speed on the basepaths, swiping a career high 15 bags.
This year, Puig’s season has been characterized by two halves. During the offseason, the Dodgers tried to trade Puig to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Jackie Bradley Jr. Then, in his first month, he struggled at the plate batting below the Mendoza line and failed to hit a home run before injuring his hip and ankle. Since coming off the disabled list, Puig is batting .323 with six home runs in 21 games.
Despite his inconsistency, Puig brings an energy to baseball that the league has not seen in decades. From licking his bat to kissing Turner Ward in the dugout, Puig remains the youthful kid we saw in 2013.
— Dara Zane Scully (@DaraZaneScully) October 15, 2017
Although he still acts like a kid, the Wild Horse has matured over the years, both on and off the field. He does not make the juvenile mistakes of overthrowing his cutoff man or swinging at every pitch as much as he did his rookie years. Off the field, he is giving back to the community through his Wild Horse Children’s Foundation. With his fundraiser celebrity poker tournaments and his help refurbishing facilities, Puig is leaving his impact in the Los Angeles community.
As we have seen five years of Yasiel Puig, we have seen it all. He have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for Puig. Through it all, Puig remains the Wild Horse, and the Wild Horse will keep trotting.
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