Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

The long view of Yasiel Puig

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By Jon Weisman

Two years to the day after 22-year-old Yasiel Puig’s thrilling, extra-inning walkoff homer to beat the Reds, it’s fascinating to see how many people are ready to shut the door on 24-year-old Yasiel Puig’s future as a baseball player.

Puig’s in a slump, it’s fair to say. He’s coming off a mixed bag of a week in which his only two hits were home runs, and his OPS has dropped from 1.047 on June 12 to .750 today.

Here’s where I point out what should be obvious:

1) His OPS was 1.047 on June 12. That’s very good.

2) One good week would halt the complaining, and one good month would render it laughable.

It would take a deep level of cynicism to assume Puig wasn’t capable of such a turnaround.

Though they are not the same player, I continue finding it hard to resist comparing Puig with the four other hitters in Los Angeles Dodger history that have made the greatest impact by age 22: Tommy Davis, Willie Davis, Steve Sax and Adrian Beltre.

Beltre PuigSax DavisLook at their adjusted OPS year-by-year, and how inconsistent the path is. (Needless to say, although he isn’t included in this chart, Matt Kemp would fit as well.)

The impatience with Beltre, one of the greatest all-around third basemen baseball has seen, is still a viscerally unpleasant memory for me.

It’s so convenient, even comforting, to think that young players develop in a solidly upward trajectory, but it’s just a fantasy. Kids have growing pains — mental and physical — and adjustments can take weeks, months or even years. Or haven’t you noticed?

What kind of player will Puig ultimately be? I have no idea. But this idea that the clock has run out on him, that if he hasn’t fixed what’s bothering him yet, he won’t fix it at all, is far too reactionary for my tastes.

And not for nothing: Puig at his worst is still a player with value.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs New York Mets

Dodger manager Don Mattingly said that Puig has shown signs of improvement since the All-Star Break.

“I think he’s been better lately,” Mattingly said. “Before the break, he looked a little rough. … I know he’s been working in the cage, doing certain things, trying to keep his lines a little straighter, a little less turned. I think he understands he’s not swinging as well as he’s capable of.

“We’re trying to get him straight, but he’s just got a lot of body turn — stuck in. It’s kind of, ‘Which came first — the chicken or the egg?’ You line up turned in, and you end up having to spin. It creates length, and it creates vision problems and everything else. So we’re just trying to get him straight.”

Needless to say, it would be naive to expect a sudden mellowing of opinions on Puig.

“Yasiel, obviously, is pretty much of a lightning rod in all areas,” Mattingly said. “No matter if he’s doing good or doing bad, or makes a good throw or makes a bad throw, or gets a hit or doesn’t get a hit, he’s pretty much a lightning rod.”


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  1. Harley

    It’s quite simple: Puig’s a narcissistic bum.HFP Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network. From: Dodger InsiderSent: Tuesday, 28 July 2015 6:02 PMTo: hpinson@bak.rr.comReply To: Dodger InsiderSubject: [New post] The long view of Yasiel Puig

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    Jon Weisman posted: ”

    By Jon Weisman

    Two years to the day after 22-year-old Yasiel Puig’s thrilling, extra-inning walkoff homer to beat the Reds, it’s fascinating to see how many people are ready to shut the door on 24-year-old Yasiel Puig’s future as a baseball player.”

    • Im not ready yet . I said we made a quick exit on Dee after we developed him into a a allstar second baseman withe hitting skills from a skinny short stop making errors left and right , then one summer in the winter league, put on a 12 pounds of muscle, aggressive batting, HE was a Late Bloomer! PUIG is also, Dee is the same age Puig is two years ago when he turned it all around. NO REASON to Trade PUIG. TRADE ETHIER/CRAWFORD?Van DYke should be playing everyday.. another example, 3rd baseman, RED head just turned into a hitting machine ask the METS if they want Justin back??

  2. Well said Jon as regards Puig (and hats off the Adrian – HOF bound).

  3. Branch Rickey was right that it’s better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late. The Dodger fans who have decided that Puig is bad, hopeless, etc., are the kind of people who would trade Clayton Kershaw after he gives up a home run.

    By the way, I got to see a Dodger game tonight. Usually I don’t, because in Las Vegas we don’t get the Dodger network, and the radio affiliate usually airs shopping shows and German music (seriously) when it’s supposed to be broadcasting games. So maybe I shouldn’t talk about the team, lacking a way to see and hear it.

  4. oldbrooklynfan

    I find it hard to say, what’s right to do with Puig. Keep him and wait or cut the outfield to one less guy with something good in return, of course. I guess I’ll just sit back and watch what happens.

  5. I’d only trade him if the return is similar to being team controlled. In other words, you don’t trade him for a pitcher who’s a free agent after this year or even next.

  6. Is a .750 OPS good?

    “And not for nothing: Puig at his worst is still a player with value.”

    That sentence just floats in the air with nothing to back it up. If I recall correctly at his worst he went 0 for St.L and turned RF into a disaster in game 6.

    I personally don’t trade him yet. But the goal is to win now. Will a RF with a 750 OPS help in that endeavor? We shall see.

    Maybe it should read “shutting the door on him as a Dodger player.”

    • Jon Weisman

      He didn’t go 0 for St. L and if you’re going to boil it down to a single day, you could be that negative about every MLB player, including Mike Trout.

      • Puig went 0 for St.L during the 2013 NLCS and his inability to play his position contributed to the collapse of the entire season that night. So it was not just one night.

        I only bring it up to challenge your claim that at his worst he still has value. That was his worst and it has no value, well maybe to StL it does.

        BTW I agree with you that placing a final nail in the Puig baseball coffin is far from necessary or accurate.

      • If you mean he went 0 in St. Louis you’re correct, but he did get 5 hits in the 3 games in LA that series. Game 6 was pretty much out of hand when he made his mental lapses as well. He did contribute to the team losing that series, but he was by far the reason why they lost.

      • Yes I meant going hitless in StL. My apologies for any confusion. However, I reiterate, I only bring it up in relation to the statement that Puig at his worst has value, which sounds ephemeral as well as incorrect.

        But that performance is in the past. We go forward with our new rotation and let’s see what it brings.

        Finally I did start off by asking a simple question: is a 750 OPS good? Is a 750 OPS something you want from a slugging RF?

    • Thanks for leaving Clayton off the hook (do we get to keep him!?).

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