Last season, a new superstar emerged in Los Angeles in the form of Yasiel Puig and he is often credited with sparking the teams turnaround and National League West title. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year vote and gave the Dodgers a boost at the top of their lineup.
ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made Puig his choice for the Dodgers’ 2014 linchpin player, meaning his success is most pivotal to the team’s success:
The Dodgers have exhausted a lot of internal energy trying to help Puig in all the ways he needs help because he can be that good. The Dodgers have great pitching, but their lineup has its holes — this is a team that finished 17th in the majors in runs last season — and another dynamic showing from Puig really is imperative.
Puig hit .319 with 19 home runs and 42 RBI in 104 games and was hitting over .400 in his first month in the majors. The 23-year-old had some trouble this off-season when he was arrested for reckless driving in Florida for going a reported 110 mph in a 70 mph zone. It was the second time he was arrested for reckless driving and caused Puig to hire his cousin as his new driver. Management released their statement on Puig and talked to him to keep his head on straight for the upcoming season.
A lineup with Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp has the potential to score plenty of runs and keep the team in most games. Puig will need to avoid the sophomore slump that has plagued many players in their second season. A strong season from Puig can turn the Dodger offense from decent to dangerous.
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