Thursday, June 20, 2013

Puig stars in the bright lights of NYC

If the rest of the country hadn't had the chance to witness Yasiel Puig, a couple of games in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday told them everything they needed to know.

Simply put, Puig was awesome in the day-night doubleheader.  He collected a couple of hits in each game, to go along with four runs, a solo homer, a double, and a stolen base.  After dropping the afternoon game thanks to four errors by some of the bums around him, he led the charge in winning the nightcap, 6-0.

Dodger fans already know through 15 games of his young career how special he is, and how special he looks heading into the future.  As for the rest of the country, unless you're a big fantasy baseball player, you may have heard about him, but hadn't witnessed the hype for yourself.

Wednesday night changed all of that.

The game was broadcast on ESPN2, which should come as no surprise considering the Yankees or Red Sox are always on ESPN.  After showing highlights of the early game, which included Puig being thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into two, and of him trying to throw someone out at first on a single into right, the show was just getting started for him in the second game when he laid down a perfect bunt and soon scored in the first inning.

Following a strikeout in his second at-bat, Puig stepped back up in the fifth and was plunked by Phil Hughes, who's been awful this season.  No problem, as he swiped second, went to third on a groundout, and scored on an RBI single by Hanley Ramirez, who had an awesome day himself with six total hits.

The last mark he left was the biggest one.  Up 5-0 heading into the seventh, the Dodgers didn't fold for a change.  They actually increased the lead, as Puig went opposite field for his fifth homer.

Peaking at his overall stats, it's hard not to get overly excited about what this guy has brought to the table.  Through 15 games, he's hitting .474 with a .500 OBP and slugging .789.  Throw in 11 runs, 3 doubles, 5 homers, 11 RBIs, and 2 steals, and you get the picture.  Oh ya, he also has two outfield assists.  He's done it all.

Now let's see if "Puig-Mania" will lead to more wins for the Dodgers.  They're still languishing in last place of the NL West, where the division leader has the lowest winning percentage in baseball (Arizona at .542).  Puig has been held hitless in only two games, but the Dodgers have a 7-8 record with him in the lineup.  That's a testament to just how lousy the team around him has been.

But, if the Dodgers can start to turn things around, Puig will see his star rise even more.  Think back to the arrival of Manny Ramirez in 2008.  He helped catapult the Dodgers to the NLCS, which was not at all in the cards when he first got there.  Manny got plenty of help along the way from guys like Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, and Takashi Saito, so Puig needs his boys to step up as well.

Is Puig another version of Mike Trout or Bryce Harper?  He's already made the big splash, now let's see how he maintains it going forward.  With his ability to display all five tools (hit for average, power, steal bases, catch and throw), I definitely like his chances.  And I also like his chances of giving people something positive to talk about on the Dodgers, rather than the usual negativity that they've earned.

"Puig-Mania" is running wild, brother!  Enjoy the ride!

No comments: