Dodgers: The First Half Resurgence of Yasiel Puig

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Yasiel Puig
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Yasiel Puig /

The last few years have been a roller-coaster ride for Dodgers Cuban star Yasiel Puig. When he first arrived in Los Angeles, he was on top of the baseball world, but his star quickly fell fast as his productivity did. This year has been great for Puig, as he has been putting up one of his best seasons in his short career, all while helping the Dodgers to a major league-best record.

With the Dodgers team playing so well this year, Yasiel Puig has been essentially buried in the headlines. Yasiel has been able to keep his head in baseball, and not everything else the media and the fans say about him. His numbers are a representation of this statement.

Going into the All-Star break, Yasiel is batting .251/.324/.453 with 16 home runs in 84 games for the team. He has done most of his production from the bottom of the order this season, which has really opened up his mindset at the plate according to Dave Roberts.

"“You combine where he’s at in the order, and the production, on top of the defensive play. That’s a plus player,” Roberts said. “He has learned and understood in certain situations with the pitcher behind him to take a walk, but if there is a mistake out over the plate, he has 16 home runs. He’s on his way to having a nice season.”"

While Puig may not be the face of the Dodgers like he was in 2013, he can be an important piece to the team and is still as fiery as ever. He’s still the same kid who’s going to bat flip after a home run, and he’s still the guy who will flip off fans that heckle him. But, when you are producing like Puig is, these are seen as fun and not immature as they would have in years past.

Besides Puig getting out of the spotlight, what else has helped him in his rise this year?

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What has been very promising from Puig has been his increased walk rate and decreased strikeout rate. On the season, Puig has had a 10.2 BB% which, is his highest rate since he has a 10.5% in his 2014 campaign. He also has had his lowest K% at 19.1% since that same 2014 season. All in all, he has been walking at a higher clip and striking out at a lower clip, which is always a way to gain success.

As Roberts said, his success is a result of his spot in the order, which would explain his decrease in strikeouts and increase in walks. With less pressure on him in the top of the order to produce, Puig is able to get into better hitter counts instead of forcing himself to try and do too much.

Before the season started, I wrote an article that discussed Puig’s struggles and explained how his new batting stance might help him succeed this year. So far, the results from his new stance are encouraging.

With his much more relaxed approach and stance at the plate, the Wild Horse has shown great growth this season at the plate. His new stance has attributed to his increase in power on the season as he is on pace for a 32 homerun season. To put that into perspective, his most home runs in a season has been 19. Now, while this power may be unsustainable, hitting 20+ homers in a season is a huge jump for Yasiel.

As the trade deadline approaches, the Dodgers may look to improve their lineup with an outfield bat, which may cut into Puig’s playing time. However, last year at this time, the team was looking for a way to replace Puig.

Yasiel has been excellent for the Dodgers this season, as he has given them an elite right fielder all while improving at the plate. It’s tough to credit his resurgence on one specific factor, so I like to give credit to the culmination of factors.

Next: Are the Dodgers Overworking Jansen?

I think it’s great to see him succeed again with this team and that he is not getting killed as he did when he had his lows in his career. Here’s to a great second half of the season Puig, the Dodgers are going to need you if they are to make it to the Fall Classic.