The arrival of Spring Training has brought along with it player evaluations from the Front Office. Sandy Koufax, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ special advisor to the team chairman, is obviously no stranger to the game of baseball.
Koufax is again in camp to offer his advice and feedback on pitchers, but he recently turned his attention to Yasiel Puig. When asked how Puig can improve, Koufax believes the young outfielder needs to be mindful of the level of competition, via ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
I’d like to see his natural talent and maybe his personality get out of the way. It’s not his personality. He enjoys himself. I think for me, probably he’s never played against talent that’s been his equal, so he thought, “OK, they’ll make a mistake. I can keep running and they’ll screw it up,” and it doesn’t happen here.”
Puig, who has played in a total of 252 MLB games, has cutdown on mental mistakes since debuting with the Dodgers in June of 2013. In his first year, he had a total Baserunning Runs above Average of (BsR) of -4.2, which illustrates how unprepared Puig was for the pace of MLB games.
Since then, Puig has shown significant improvement, which Koufax acknowledged:
He struggled at the end of the year hitting, but I don’t think he made the same mistakes, throws crazy out of nowhere, running the bases badly. I think there was a lot of progress, but when you’re struggling at the plate, everything looks bad.”
One of Puig’s improvements at the end of last season was his ability to see more pitches. Although his batting average dropped from .309 in the first half of 2014 to .274 in the second half, he decreased his number of strikeouts by 1.1 percent post All-Star break and played a solid center field.
While it may seem like an insignificant amount, this is the lowest strike out percentage that Puig has achieved in the MLB. In his first season, his strike out percentage was 22.4 percent and it dropped to 18.7 percent last year.
Evident he’s aware more progression is needed and expected, Puig reported to Spring Training early this year and according to some who have observed him, has taken a more serious approach to the nuances of the game.
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