Dodgers: Yasiel Puig’s 2017 Season Grade
By Hector Ponce
This year was one Dodger fans will remember for years to come. One reason for this, was the play of right fielder, Yasiel Puig.
Entering the 2017 season the Dodgers and their fans didn’t quite know what to expect from the 26-year-old. Fans had high expectations from him for the last three seasons, but after two back to back disappointing seasons, it seemed as though fans weren’t expecting much out of him in 2017.
This season was a very crucial one for Yasiel. In 2016 he had been demoted mid-season and was not guaranteed to make the playoff roster. His antics were too much for a player who was not producing. It looked like he had finally worn out his welcome in Los Angeles.
Little did we know that he would break out for a fantastic year. Nobody except Yasiel and Dave Roberts could have seen this coming. Yasiel Puig was the big story here, but I would be remised if I did not mention the impact Roberts had in Puig’s season.
Unlike Mattingly, Dave Roberts has a special connection with his players, because he lets them be themselves. Nobody is more thankful for that than Yasiel Puig. Roberts knew how to get the best out of his players, especially Puig.
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Last season seemed to be a wake-up call for Puig. Roberts sent a message by sending him to the minors. This move did so many things to help out Puig. First like I mentioned it was a wakeup call for him to get his act together. Second more than anything it removed a flashy player from a flashy city and gave him some perspective on his situation.
This season was different for Puig in many ways. He had something to prove. Aside from that the pressures from the outside looking in were almost non-existent for him. The pressure for him to produce was hidden by so many other factors to open up the season.
He was not asked to do as much this season as in season’s past. Roberts did as to as he could to keep the pressure off and just let him play his game. He had him batting in the 8th spot in the lineup, and that was a spot Puig thrived in all season long.
Puig had a .284 average in the 61 games that he hit in the eight-hole which gave him confidence every game as the season progressed. His production from the bottom of the lineup eventually earned him a “promotion” to the heart of the order.
Yasiel Puig was instrumental for this team. He hit wherever Doc had him slotted in the lineup. This season Puig mashed a career-high 28 home-runs. He was back on track to being the Puig that we all expected him to be after his first two years in the MLB.
Another thing not be overlooked is his health. This year was the first time he was healthy since the 2014 season. His production dived after injuries nagged him during the 2015 season. He came back in 2016 and did not do well at all. In 2017 he was healthy all year long and played a career-high 152 games.
With the team seeing so many moving parts day to day, one thing was sure all season. Yasiel Puig in Right Field. That may have been his biggest asset to this club. He was always out on the field competing every pitch both offensively and defensively. This Puig was locked in for all 27 outs in the 152 games he played.
Aside from his offensive breakthroughs this season, he continued his dominance on defense. He was ROBBED of a Gold Glove. Despite this, he was undoubtedly in my eyes the best defensive RF in the National League. Maybe even the second best all-around defender behind Nolan Arenado.
Puig is a wizard with the leather. His raw athleticism helps him get to balls that seem impossible to make. But don’t let his athleticism fool you into thinking he just uses speed to mask bad reads. He has some of the best jumps on a baseball in the bigs. His route efficiency is excellent, and although his nonchalant way of catching a baseball gives me anxiety, he is sure-handed.
Oh, he also has a cannon for an arm just in case you forgot.
Above all else, it was his growth and maturity as a person that stood out to me. One thing in particular that showed his growth as a team player was learning English. This showed he was ready and wanting to communicate with all of his teammates.
Not to say he couldn’t do this without learning English. However, him talking face to face with a teammate, coach or executive, rather than through a translator showed how he was ready to make changes to his lifestyle in order to better himself on the field.
Next: Austin Barnes' Yearly Review
Puig grew as a player both on and off the field. This season was special. We were able to see the growth of a player before our very eyes. Yasiel Puig had a great season offensively, a better season defensively and still, his best improvement was off the field. Puig helped himself in a big way, and it will be exciting to see him continue this trend with the Dodgers for years to come.