I’ve been deprived of bat flips this season. Not only has Yasiel Puig decided not to stylize his homerun swing with his iconic bat flip this season to silence the haters, but there really hasn’t been that much opportunity to do so anyways. Yasiel Puig has only hit three homeruns this season in his 39 games, and I’m beginning to feel a bit empty inside.
The Day the Blister Popped: June 22, 2015
It was a bloody Monday at Dodger Stadium when Yasiel Puig’s torn callus on his hand popped during an at bat. We really didn’t even know he had a blister until he grimaced in pain once it burst, and it would end up sidelining him for three games thereafter. This was not the kind of bubble I wanted bursting in the Dodger dugout. While the bubble machine has been long gone and auctioned off, unfortunately Puig’s offensive bubble had also burst.
Puig was scratched from the June 24th lineup, and he didn’t return to play until the 26th with his hand heavily bandaged.
Since June 22nd when his blister burst, Puig’s batting average has dropped from .314 to .272. He has no homeruns in that span, and just 8 hits four of which are the extra base variety in 45 at bats. He’s struck out 12 times and walked 6 times. The last time Puig hit a homerun was way back on June 10th versus Arizona.
In Wednesday night’s Clayton Kershaw complete game shutout, Puig went 0-for-5 against the last place Phillies.
Puig is hitting just .171/.277/.244 over the past two weeks, and he’s hitting .179 so far in July. Puig had a strong June, hitting .303/.384/.474 in June after returning from the disabled list.
Puig’s lack of power has been duly noted by many, and some may even think that Puig will never be able to live up to all the expectations he created when he burst (pun intended) on to the scene in 2013.
Don Mattingly said this about Puig’s talent and ability to adjust:
"“We’ve seen him jump on the scene and make this huge splash,” Mattingly said Sunday. “It’s been pretty normal after that. Obviously, you see the talent level is kind of on the ceiling. Then you have to perform to that.”"
Puig has been hampered by a strained hamstring and now this pesky blister, and I’m sure the hullabaloo about the words written about him in Molly Knight’s forthcoming book The Best Team Money Can Buy has made Puig eager to counter act the negativity surrounding his alleged disruptive behavior in the clubhouse with positivity at the plate.
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We all saw how chronic blister problems affected Andre Ethier offensively, and I’m confident that Yasiel Puig will be able to make the adjustments necessary to move past this blistery breakdown and get back to bat flippin’.
You may hate him or you may love him, but you cannot argue that Yasiel Puig has been one of the most integral parts to this Dodger team since he helped them win their first of two consecutive division titles in the N.L. West. When Yasiel Puig is healthy and confident, he’s one of the most exciting players to watch in the game.
Jul 3, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) reacts as he strikes out during the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
A review on Molly Knight’s book is forthcoming, but for right now all I can say about that is that Yasiel Puig is none to different than most superstar athletes. We even saw Clayton Kershaw throw a tantrum in the dugout in frustration this season. While dugout chemistry is important, Puig’s talent is such that some of his misdoings can be forgiven if it means a World Championship for the Dodgers.
With four games left before the All-Star Break, the Dodgers are in the perfect position in the division with a five game lead over San Francisco and Arizona. With some reinforcements hopefully coming to the starting rotation and bullpen (and maybe even a Corey Seager debut soon), a healthy and productive Yasiel Puig would elevate the Dodgers to that next level.
Hunter Pence and Yasiel Puig could both be very important to the Giants and Dodgers in the second half, and I’ll take Puig’s antics over Pence’s terrifying persona any day. The bat flips may have temporarily cooled off, but the stage is set for a blistering (offensively blistering) second half for Yasiel.