At the beginning of the season, it didn’t make sense for the Dodgers to even consider calling up prospect Yasiel Puig since they already had Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to occupy all three outfield spots.
However, as has been the case for a couple seasons now, Kemp and Crawford both were on the shelf and the Dodgers didn’t have anywhere to turn but to Puig. During spring training, Puig turned some heads as he hit .526 and has taken that confidence with him to the big league level.
With 23 games left in the season, the National League Rookie of the Year race is still too close to call between Puig and Jose Fernandez of the Marlins according to Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com:
Despite all the talk about his immaturity and poor fundamentals, Puig is hitting .350/.409/.562 (172 OPS+) with 19 doubles, 14 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 81 games while playing strong outfield defense. He’s had a huge impact on a first place team that didn’t really hit its stride until he showed up. If voters are going to dock Fernandez for being shut down and having his season cut short, they should similarly penalize Puig for being called up late. It’s only fair. Like Fernandez being a fringe Cy Young candidate, Puig is a fringe MVP candidate.
When the two faced off against each other in Miami, Fernandez got the best of Puig in three at-bats and since then he’s been benched for not being ready defensively.
Fernandez is having an amazing rookie season and with an innings limit of 170 innings pitched, he has about 12 more innings to pitch before his season is over. For Puig, he’s nursing a knee injury that’s sidelined him the last couple nights as Don Mattingly looks to rest his starters as the playoffs approach.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Fernandez shutdown will affect the race, but while Puig is all about the team, he should win the award.
In case you missed it, be sure to find out more about the Michael Young trade!