Yasiel Puig, Legitimate MVP Contender
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Oh boy, MVP talk. It’s way to early to get riled up about this. There is a whole lot of baseball to be played, and the Dodgers still have a division to win. But as July turns into August, and after Puig nearly hit for the cycle last night, less than a week after hitting 3 (!!!) triples in a single game, Puig has a legitimate chance to win the National League’s most valuable player.
Lets remind you of how good he is. His walk rate is at a lousy 10.9% which is the stat I start out with because last season, one of the main reasons keeping him out of the all star game was the fact that he was immature and had to make significant adjustments to his game before arriving as a talent. Well he’s done all that. He’s done more than just arrive. His triple slash line reads as follows: .317/.402/.544. If you own a triple slash line of .300/.400/.500 into late-July over more than 400 AB’s, then you’re easily an MVP contender. That triple slash line is good for a incredible 168 wRC+, first among all qualifying NL outfielders, second among all of the players in the entire National League.
Yasiel Puig is the best, healthy bat in the entire National League, and only 8% behind the best player on the planet in weighted runs created +, that’s not just a bold statement, stats prove this.
Defensive metrics don’t love Puig, they rate him as an average defender in right field, which sometimes seems like the perfect blend of oh…. my… goodness……… Puig……
OH MY GOODNESS, PUIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!
However, something tells me he’s more than just average. Something is pointing me to Citi Field Just a hunch. Oh right.
I could use more words on describing how Puig is an incredible defender, but that takes the cake. If you can make that play, you’re not very average in my book.
He’s worked hard to improve his baserunning, and Puig is on pace to only cost the Dodgers a run on the basepaths this season, which is down from the 4.2 he gave away last season. Given him cutting down on his walks, that’s real improvement, not SSS demons.
So lets take into account that Puig has improved his offense from last season by showing maturity in plate discipline, has made incredible plays, has cutdown on his baserunning, and Puig has a chance.
Now, for what the writers really care about. Take a look at that this table, and look at the names at the top. Tulo, Cutch, Puig, Gomez, Stanton. Tulo is injured, Cutch is amazing, but not on top of his division (he also won the MVP without a division title last year, for what it’s worth), Stanton unfortunately plays for the Marlins. Only 2 of those 5 players have the “division leader, team leader, winner” thing going for them, and I don’t think that the national baseball writers are ready to give any votes to the erratic, disrespectful, and perfect Carlos Gomez.
Also, if you watched the narrative put forth on Sunday Night Baseball last week, you can see a more positive light being shined on Puig, so that’s always a positive. Do either of the things the writers care about matter? No. Does it make him a more likely candidate? You betcha.
However what really makes him impressive are the numbers. I love using that wRC+ stat. He’s at 168 wRC+, or put other words, take the average hitter, improve his hitting by 68%, add in the tools to be an all world defender, plus the crave for excitement and flair, and you have a true MVP candidate.
The award shouldn’t be close to be decided, however if we’re talking about MVP hopefuls, Puig’s name has to come close, or even top that list.