What a difference a year makes.

Yasiel Puig was in the Dodgers organization’s doghouse at this point in time last year. Consequential questions concerning his demeanor, attitude and inconsistent play fueled tension towards the 26 year old phenom throughout the year.

When Puig arrived in 2013, he single-handedly turned the Dodgers season around for Don Mattingly’s ball club. He produced at a tremendously high rate, and many began to comare him to former legend Bo Jackson at times because of his stellar highlights created in right field.

Things began to get shaky as time went by, and he ended up in a tough situation during 2016. The Dodgers ultimately presented an ultimatum after enough was enough. He was sent down to Triple-A and returned back to the clubhouse, only to compete for playing time with Josh Reddick.

The past cannot be forgetten, but it’s clear that he has earned his teams trust back after a miraculous effort to reshape his approach to the game. His favorite player is Derek Jeter, and he certainly took drastic steps throughout the offseason in order to emulate his idol’s standards on the baseball field.

It’s amazing, really. His batting average is nearly identical to what it was last season; but 2017 has portrayed a different story. Take a look at his current overall statistics:

HR   26 2nd (behind Bellinger)
RBI 69 3rd (behind Bellinger & Seager)
Walks 61 (2nd behind Taylor)
Slugging (Min. 100 at-bats)  .491 (3rd behind Forsythe & Seager)
Stolen Bases 14 (5th overall)

Yasiel Puig has been on a roll the last seven days (.435 avg, 10 hits, 2 home runs and 4 doubles), and he’ll definitely be a major factor this postseason. His continued success is more crucial than ever moving forward since he has been moved up in the lineup to 5th, right behind Cody Bellinger. Teams have no reason to pitch to Bellinger if there isn’t a threat behind him. We saw this in San Francisco when Bochy had Bellinger intentionally walked three times in one game.

Puig is approaching the game with a mature mindset, and it’s paying impressive dividends. The defense will always be there due to his elite athleticism, and his batting stance resembles the one from 2013 that tore up the MLB. Hopefully his success continues well into October!

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