When the Los Angeles Dodgers promoted Yasiel Puig from Double-A Chattanooga to the Majors in June of 2013, they were in desperate need of a spark. The club had underperformed and been ravished by injuries, which created an opportunity for Puig that he never relinquished.
At the time 22 years old, the Cuban native splashed onto the scene, hitting .436/.467/.713 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs over 26 games in his first month in the Majors. Puig’s success since that point has expectedly dropped. Though it’s certainly not an indictment on him; sustaining that level of production isn’t possible.
Now in his third season with the Dodgers, Puig is arriving at an early crossroads. As a player with elite talent, he’s yet to fully reach his potential and remain there on a consistent basis. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said whether Puig realizes his full potential is dependent on improving and making adjustments, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
It’s almost up to him really,” he said. “Is he going to be able to make adjustments? I talk about it all the time, right? Is he a guy that is just up there reacting – or does he actually have a game plan when he walks up there? Usually, the guys who have a game plan and are making adjustments are the ones who can change over time. If you’re just a guy who’s just reacting then the way you are the first time we see you is pretty much what you are your whole career.”
While there’s still room for Puig to grow, he’s already shown signs of improvement. His career walk rate has increased from 8.3 percent to 10.5 percent in 2014 and 11.1 percent heading into play on Monday this season.
Additionally, Puig’s strikeout rate has dropped in each of the last three seasons. He struck out 22.5 percent of the time in 2013, 19.4 percent in 2014 and is at 16.7 percent this season. In 29 games Puig is batting .306/.380/.491, which are all increases on his slash line from 2014 with the exception of the .382 on-base percentage he posted in 148 games last season.