With Trayce Thompson and Corey Seager quickly crowding the marquees in many Dodgers news outlets and forums, one young Dodger star has faded out of the spotlight. Despite his exceptional play with the glove, Yasiel Puig‘s output at the plate has made him a hot topic among beat writers and Dodger fans alike.
The 25 year old outfielder is now into his fourth year in the league and while his debut was as bombastic as anyone could have predicted, he has failed to recapture the glory attained during his rookie campaign.
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After finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, his batting average has continued to slide from .315 to as low as .255 last season. After 39 games this year, his batting average is at a career low at .232. The one bright side to his slow start at the dish is that it has not affected his performance in the outfield. In fact, you could make the argument that he is having one of his best years defensively, having already tallied four incredible assists from the outfield with a few diving plays to compliment.
The question remains, however- will he ever be as good as he was in 2013?
In a pretty divisive article by Houston Mitchell of the L.A. Times, Mitchell suggests that Puig be demoted to the minors in order to work on a few things in hopes that he regains his rhythm at the plate before being recalled. My immediate question pertains to the members of the team that are currently performing even worse at the plate. What of Howie Kendrick, (.225) Kike Hernandez (.203) and Carl Crawford? (.200) If it were as easy as working on some things in the minors, there are at least three other candidates for a demotion. While I’m actually all for having Puig simply see more live pitching, there are avenues to do so at the major league level, whether it is at practice, in the cages or in simulated games.
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The most popular cry from the Dodger faithful for three seasons now is for management to find a suitor in a trade that would send Puig to another team. His very affordable contract makes this a more likely possibility than sending him to the minors, (Puig is set to make a relatively small sum of $8M/year until 2018). Only, his potential for absolute greatness at the plate makes this such a knee-jerk reaction to some marginal troubles making contact with the ball.
We can’t forget that Puig was once a 22-year-old kid with hay in his hair when he smashed 19 homers in 100 games during his rookie year. Most scouts would tell you that his stock is rising rather than dipping after a performance like that. So with such an affordable contract and such potential, trading him could very well leave the other team with the last laugh. The only way a deal gets done is if Dodgers G.M. Farhan Zaidi and President Andrew Friedman are totally swept off their feet by an offer from competitors, but don’t hold your breath.
In closing, I will simply say this – Puig is off to a slow start, but he is by no means a lost cause. He is also still pretty young. As a 25 year old, he may even need a couple more seasons before he really feels at home in the majors. I fully expect this slump to continue for possibly the rest of May, but he is going to figure some things out at the plate. By working with the coaching staff and teammates who are more thrilled than ever to have him around the clubhouse, he will be able to tap into his potential at the plate. In the meantime, he isn’t exactly a terrible guy to have in the lineup everyday. His defense is second to none and he has managed to swat four homers during his slow start. Puig is still a valuable player to have, especially when you’re talking per dollar. You can expect to see him in a Dodger uniform for quite a while.
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