Yasiel Puig is incredibly fun to watch. If you didn’t see Puig’s amazing yet sort of frightening catch in right-center field at Sloan Park to rob Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo of an extra base hit in Wednesday’s game, here it is in all its glory.
I might get some hate for saying this, but Joc Pederson couldn’t have made that catch. I don’t want to take anything away from Joc, since he is a solid outfielder in his own right, but there’s just something special about Puig and his aggressive style of play which makes me giddy and reminds me why I love baseball so much.
It’s no secret that I love Yasiel Puig in center field, and I think that the Wild Horse should roam the wide open pasture of center field for the Dodgers on a permanent basis with Carl Crawford/Scott Van Slyke in left field and Joc Pederson or Andre Ethier in right field. I know I may be in the majority with my opinion, but I still stand by my campaign for Puig to stay in center.
Of course slamming into outfield walls is not exactly what I want Puig to do, and it certainly brings back bad memories of Matt Kemp‘s shoulder injury at Coors Field which put his career on hold for two years. Feelings of awe quickly transitioned into a sinking heart once I imagined an injured Puig, but luckily he was okay after the catch and walked away from the scene unharmed. The last thing the Dodgers need is for Puig to be injured during Spring Training. Even though they have extra outfielders, losing Puig for any length of time would be a huge blow to not only the lineup but the defense as well.
Puig’s defense is getting noticed this Spring. Last season Puig improved at the plate with more patience, and it looks as though the Cuban phenom has also improved defensively with increased focus in the outfield as well.
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Eric Stephen of True Blue LA wrote about Puig’s shining defense this Spring. He cites quite a few examples of Puig’s solid defense from center field this Spring including a couple of plays when he quickly cut off a ball and got it back into the infield which prevented extra bases. Puig is even hitting the cutoff man instead of haphazardly gunning the ball to home or even past home.
While Puig is certainly stellar in right field, he has also harnessed his wild abandon in order to use his superpowers in center field as well. Don Mattingly said that he planned to play Puig in right field and center field this Spring. Even though it looks as though Joc Pederson will open the season as the Dodgers’ center fielder come April 6th, Yasiel Puig’s cannon arm, refocused energy and all-out style should definitely be considered when outfield configurations are set.
Puig played in 53 games at center field for the Dodgers last season where he collected 8 outfield assists.
The 24-year old is hitting .273 with a homerun, 3 RBI, 2 walks and no strikeouts in 13 plate appearances so far this Spring.
If you think that Yasiel Puig shouldn’t play center field because of plays like this, you should know that there are still walls in right field as well.