Part of Yasiel Puig’s growth has included a change in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ batting order with Puig now batting third, behind Hanley Ramirez, rather than in front of him.
Up until his recent slump, Puig was an effective hitter with runners in scoring position and was particularly hot in May, hitting .398 overall with eight home runs, 25 RBIs and tied a franchise record for most hits in the month.
Puig is on pace to surpass his totals in several offensive statistics, if he hasn’t already, including home runs. In 104 games last season, Puig hit 19 home runs. Through 72 games this year, Puig has 11 homers.
While it is not an overly impressive amount of home runs, Puig’s status as one of the game’s biggest stars has led to many calling for an appearance in the 2014 Home Run Derby. Troy Tulowitzki is the captain of the National League’s team and will have his choice of which four players to invite to participate.
According to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, Puig would gladly participate if invited:
If he chooses me, I absolutely welcome it,” Puig told the Los Angeles Times through an interpreter, “but it doesn’t matter to me whether I play or not.”
Should Puig be invited by Tulowitzki, he may have an opportunity to square off against fellow Cuban Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics, who won the contest last season. Citing the type of hitter Puig is, Cespedes casted some doubt as to how he would fare in the derby:
This is not the type of competition he would be able to excel at,” Cespedes said then. “He’s not really a home-run hitter, so I believe I would win.”
When told of Cespedes’ comments, Puig placed more of an importance on hitting home runs in a regular season game:
Everybody has their own opinion,” he said. “That’s his opinion. It doesn’t bother me. Where you need to hit home runs is in an actual game, not in the derby.”
Cespedes and Puig have both been recognized this season for remarkable plays. Puig had what many lauded as the catch of the year and Cespedes uncorked perhaps the throw of the year to nail Howie Kendrick at the plate.
Though different forms of plays, they were compared to each other, which included Puig praising Cespedes for the throw but stopping short of declaring who has the better arm. The two appear to have a healthy competition and July 14 could be the date they get an opportunity to go toe-to-toe.
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