Throughout the majority of his career, Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig has been a lightning rod. Whether it has been for good or bad, Puig draws the attention of others by the way he plays the game.
Call it an aura, a flair, whatever the word is you’re looking for, Yasiel Puig has it. All eyes are on him whenever he has the ball or is up to bat. With the glove, Puig has made several highlight-plays for the Dodgers this season, and of course, everyone knows when he lets a throw rip, he has a chance to gun a runner out from anywhere on the field. When it comes to his plate appearances, Puig bat flips his way into the spotlight.
While Puig is the center of the attention whenever he’s thrown into the spotlight, this season and now this postseason, he is finally garnering the attention from others for his play.
2017 has been quite the revelation for the Cuban, who has not always been a productive player on the field. This season, however, has been a complete 360.
Interestingly enough, Puig hit .263 in both 2016 and 2017. So what has been the difference? This season Puig hit 17 more home runs than he did in 2016 and his walk rate is up from 6% of his plate appearances to 11%.
This increased his on-base percentage from .323 to .346. Puig also struck out less as a result of not swinging at off-speed pitches low and away. That had been the kryptonite, but this season he struck out in only 17% of his at-bats compared to 20% from 2016.
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This season Puig increased his slugging percentage by 70 points and his OPS by nearly 100 points. So not only has Puig cut down on his strikeouts and walking more, but he is also doing more damage when he hits the ball.
The trend has continued throughout the current playoff run the Dodgers are on. Puig is a career .293 hitter in the postseason but in 2015 and 2016 was a non-factor.
This year, Puig has a .438 average in the postseason, and his on-base percentage is a whopping 571. His OPS is also through the stratosphere at 1.446.
It’s easy to forget because of Justin Turner’s walk-off homer, but Puig worked a walk to start the inning and was the winning run on second base when Turner blasted a three-run home run to centerfield. All that was really needed was a simple base hit to score Puig and win the game but Turner capped it off with a blast.
Puig has rounded into the complete player the Dodgers were hoping for when they first signed him as a young outfielder with five-tool potential.
Not only is he putting up tough at-bats and showing more plate discipline, but he also is doing all the simple things in the outfield like hitting the cut off man and keeping runners from taking that extra base on balls singled into right field.
In the NLDS, Paul Goldschmidt refused to try running to third base from first on a line drive to right field, and the only reason he didn’t advance was that he knew Puig had a chance to gun him out.
While it may not show in the box score, Puig saves runs by making baserunners think twice about taking an extra-base hit on him.
Yasiel Puig has turned into my favorite player to watch, and a lot of it has to do with all the flair he brings to the field. The wild horse is capable of making any play he wants on the field and when he comes to bat you just know he’s going to flip his bat and do some damage to the opposition.
With the loss of Corey Seager, the Dodgers needed a few other players to step up, and Yasiel Puig has done just that. The bottom of the Dodger order has been a boost to the offense and Puig is the most significant reason why. How many eight-hitters in the major leagues can hit 25 or more home runs in a season?
The answer is not many, and the Dodgers have just that in Puig. If the Los Angeles does end up getting by the Cubs and winning the World Series, Yasiel Puig figures to be a big reason why. When the wild horse is loose, all we can do is sit back and enjoy, because he is about to make another fantastic play for the Dodgers.