Yasiel Puig is a dividing figure. He’s also really, really good. This year he’s missed a lot of time with various hamstring problems and as a result has never been able to play himself into form. Puig had been running on the field at just 80% and with reports of pain however he seemingly overnight is running 100% without pain and made a start in the outfield (instructional league).
Despite all this, Puig has still been an above average player when on the field, hitting .256/.324/.440 good for an OPS+ of 111 or 11% better than the rest of the league. Puig has certainly shown signs of maturity this year with much better decisions on the basepaths and showing a willingness to hit the cutoff man. It is also important to note that Puig is just 24 years old, just a year older than rookie Joc Pederson.
Looking forward to the all important 9th of October, it is now realistic (although optimistic) to expect that Puig may be available in some capacity. Puig doesn’t NEED to be an everyday player against the Mets as 4 of the 5 games will likely be started by right-handers and Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez have all done a great job in Puig’s absence.
When Puig is truly needed will be a) as a pinch hitter for one of those 3 left handers as all three have bad platoon splits but b) in Game 4 against Steven Matz. It’s been a common theme here at Dodgers Way to have somewhat of a giggle at the Dodgers’ lineup against southpaws – it has often been a little weird and lacking power. Having Puig available in game 4 goes a long way towards fixing that. Against Matz the lineup may now look like this:
Whilst this may certainly look quite different if Don Mattingly opted to go with Rollins for Game 4, this would nonetheless be a very respectable lineup in any playoff game.
With this, I will concede that Yasiel Puig can be extremely frustrating. But he can also be extremely brilliant. A healthy Yasiel Puig may just be the difference between a deep October run or early disappointment.