In just his second season, Yasiel Puig was named to his first All-Star Game and participated in the Home Run Derby. Puig struggled both in the Derby and All-Star Game, as he failed to record a home run or hit.
Given his youth and general appearance to produce in key or high-profile moments, Puig appeared to press during his time in Minnesota. However, that has carried over into the second half of the season.
Since the All-Star Game, Puig is hitting .276 with one home run and 21 strikeouts. Well aware of the center fielder’s struggles, manager Don Mattingly said had Puig struggled early in the season, it may have resulted in a demotion, according to the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett:
Since June 1 … I think it’s like two (home runs) and 19 ribbies,” Mattingly said, his accuracy betraying some behind-the-scenes discussion. “If this had happened at the beginning of the season, we probably would have sent him back. You never know.”
Plunkett added Mattingly’s remark was accompanied by a “chuckle.” The manager furthered his comments to include Joc Pederson’s name:
You think about it — you never know, right?” he said to that. “If Joc Pederson is down there hitting home runs every day, would you have done something? You may have thought that would be the best thing at that point.”
Puig was particularly effective at the plate during the month of May (.398/.492/.731) and again in July (.351/.425/.688). Although he struck out 24 times in May and June, his batting average in June was significantly lower at .248.
During a six-game stretch ranging from Aug. 14 — Aug. 20, Puig hit .400 (10-for-25) but had little to show for it — one double and three RBIs. Since that point, he’s gone hitless in 16 at-bats over five games.
The Dodgers begin a three-game series Friday in San Diego, a team Puig is hitting .222 with one home run and six RBIs against this season in 45 at-bats (13 games).
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