Thursday, July 4, 2013

Puig gets the pub, but Hanley is a star again

All of the praise heaped upon Yasiel Puig has been completely justified and well-deserved.  After all, anyone who wins both the Rookie of the Month and Player of the Month is a stud.  Throw in the fact that it's his first month in the big leagues, and it's amazing to reflect at all he's already accomplished.

But let's not overlook the reason the Dodgers are winning again.  It's because of Hanley Ramirez.

That's of no fault of Puig, who has been awesome since day one.  But, for the first three weeks of his debut, the Dodgers only had a 7-10 record.  It seemed like the story of each game would be "Puig shines, but the Dodgers still lose."  He couldn't overcome the lack of production from the bums around him.

Enter Ramirez.  His season never really got started until June 4 thanks to a torn thumb ligament in the World Baseball Classic and a strained hamstring running the bases against the Giants.  Even when he returned, he was relegated to pinch-hitting duties and missed three straight games because of precaution.  It sure looked like the Dodgers wouldn't get much out of him this season.

That all changed on June 19 in Yankee Stadium.  As the Dodgers split a day-night doubleheader, Ramirez went 6-for-8 with three runs, a homer, a double, and four RBIs.  He never looked back.  Since then, he's been on a 14-game hitting streak with five homers and 15 RBIs along the way.  Simply put, he's been awesome and just crushing the ball on seemingly every swing.

He's also been extremely valuable, because his return to MVP form has brought the Dodgers win after win.  Currently they've taken 10 of 11 and are sitting 2 1/2 games in back of the Diamondbacks in the NL West.  Where were they a month ago today?  Try dead last and 7 1/2 back.  It was ugly.

There are many other things that have gone well for the Dodgers, too.  Kenley Jansen has been great as the closer.  Clayton Kershaw has been... well, Clayton Kershaw.  Juan Uribe has actually hit this year.  Andre Ethier has played great defense and has picked it up some at the dish.  Plus, getting rid of underachievers Luis Cruz and Matt Guerrier has been addition by subtraction (I wish I could say the same about Brandon League, but I digress).

It's been a team effort to get this winning streak going, but make no mistake about it, Ramirez's impact has pushed this team over the top.  Puig set the tone, now Ramirez has turned that tone into wins.  So while we all marvel over the greatness of Puig, don't forget what Ramirez offers as well. 

Now please, just stay healthy!

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