Dodger Thoughts

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

The Algebra of Yasiel Puig

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

We’re not really the sum of all our parts. We’re more the multiplication of them.

The fractions of ourselves don’t neatly add up in tidy columns. They clash and they explode like calculus.

So just in the past several days, the answer to Yasiel Puig involves finding the product of this:

[mlbvideo id=”701809583″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”711946383″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”720488983″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”719692183″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”727756283″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”728181383″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”735210983″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”736513683″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”736240883″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
[mlbvideo id=”736358483″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

In the sixth inning of Tuesday’s 8-2 Dodger victory, one moment after he crossed home plate with the Dodgers’ fifth run, two moments after he stood at home plate while watching a hit of his not leave the park — losing an extra base in the process — Dave Roberts solved for X. He took Puig out of the game, as Chad Thornburg of details.

“In my opinion, he should have been on second base,” Roberts said. “When we talk about playing the game the right way, we’ve got to be accountable. So that was the decision that I made.”

Puig did his own calculations, and came up with the same result.

“I should have run out that ball,” Puig said. “It was a bad decision on my part. It was a good decision on the manager’s part. It shows not only myself, but the rest of my teammates that you have to run out every single ball.”

As math problems go, Puig is Ph. D. level. It’s not that Clayton Kershaw or Chase Utley aren’t more complex than they appear on paper (they’re human beings, after all), but their places on the number line are pretty easily found.

With Puig, the tendency for fans and media is to focus on single variables, rather than the product. (By the way, if I’m getting any of this stuff wrong, I last took a math class in 1985, so forgive me.) My belief, my strong belief, is that with Puig, you really have to work all the factors — all the hitting, fielding, throwing, speed, aggressiveness, decision-making, clubhouse, community, pregame, in-game, postgame, humor, culture-shock, character, behavioral, love-of-life factors — to even begin to get a grasp on him.

Some of those factors — good, bad and ugly — jump off the page like they were on a trampoline, and they cloud the calculation. But you have to stick to it. You don’t get to pick and choose, any more than you do with any other, less leapfroggy player.

In some ways, Puig remains spectacular. In others, he has been a disappointment. And some of those ways fluctuate day-to-day, hour-to-hour, inning-to-inning, base-to-base. Perhaps we’re honing in on what Puig is or isn’t, what he will or will not be. But I wouldn’t dare underestimate his ability to surprise — and turn all your numbers upside down.


Bolsinger obeys speed limits, Dodgers cruise


Kawanos Club: The story of two baseball lifers


  1. I like Puig, I don’t think he’s a Prima Donna the way other teams fans and media thinks he is. That said, it may be beneficial for both Puig and the Dodgers for a change of scenery. He can opt into Arb after this year, and even with a down year up to this point, may be able to get more than the 16.5M he’s due the next 3 years (I believe he can only opt in this year, or stay with that contract). With Ethier coming back, and Thompson looking like he can be an everyday player, may be time to see if they can get some pitching help for him,

  2. Er, Ethier is 8 or 9 years older than Puig, a lot more expensive, and on the downward arc of his career. I don’t think that’s a choice which should be made. Thompson, maybe.

    • I wouldn’t call it a choice of the two per say. Etheir contract runs until the end of 2017 (with an option for 1018 I doubt gets picked up, but there’s a buy out attached), so he’s here anyway, and was more productive than Puig last year, despite his advanced age. Verdugo will probably be ready by 2018, if not sooner, so IF Thmpson the real thing, and Pederson not going anywhere, something needs to be done about Puig anyway. He has more trade value than Etheir, so that needs to be part of the equation.

  3. I’m not putting them in the same league, mind you, but the Red Sox once had a young outfielder who–no kidding–stood in the outfield practicing his swing as a ball went by him. The manager was, shall we say, upset and removed him from the game. He did some other stupid things in his time, too, even as a veteran player. But Mr. Williams could hit.

  4. Excellent post. It’s important to take the long view on Puig and remember that the same personality traits that cause his blunders are perhaps also the same ones that create so many of his magical moments.

    In the end, it will all come down to his production. If you hit, the team will overlook almost anything. (See: Ramirez, Manny.)

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén