Dodgers: Who Is the Better Player, Raul Mondesi or Yasiel Puig?


Yasiel Puig has been one of the most polarizing players ever since his Dodger debut back in June of 2013. His style and ability is reminiscent of another former Dodger Latin sensation from the 1990’s, Raul Mondesi. Because of their similar games let’s compare which of these two players has been the better Dodger player.

To start both players are right fielders. Body type Puig is more of a built and bigger player than Mondesi was.  Mondesi who is of Dominican Republic descent was listed at an average 5’11 and 202 pounds during his playing days.  On the other hand, Puig has the physical makeup of an NFL linebacker listed at 6’2 240 pounds.  Probably the most striking similarity between the two is their canon arms. Mondesi like Puig had one of the most feared arms from the OF.  Players had to be brave to try to take an extra base on Mondesi and if they tried there was a good chance they would be out.

If you look up throwing highlights on Mondesi the similarities between himself and Puig are very close. It’s like the only difference is the old tape of Mondesi that gives away era it was filmed in. We all know about Puig’s rocket arm and how lethal it is. Puig will sometimes toy with players on the base paths and hold on to the ball to try to convince them to attempt to run on him. Other times he will just throw to the next base even if he knows the runner is not going to run just to show off. In their careers, Mondesi had 112 total assists in 13 seasons with his Dodger high being 16 in ’94 and ’95. He did have an 18 assists season in ’01 as a member of the Blue Jays as well.

Puig compiled 39 total assists thus far through 5 seasons with a high of 15 in 2014. However, it is hard to track how many opportunities each player had to throw someone out. Defensively, Mondesi won two gold gloves while Puig has none, but you could make the case Puig should’ve won one the past season. Also, Puig does have a higher career fielding percentage of .986 to Mondesi .976. When it comes to hitting both players share some similarities as well. Mondesi like Puig was an aggressive hitter that will take his share of strikeouts and not walk much.

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Some of my earliest baseball memories at Dodgers Stadium involve fans yelling “Rauuuuuul” as Mondesi went up to the plate. Overall, he was a career .273 hitter but was much better as a Dodger hitting .288 in 7 career seasons in LA. Puig at this point is a .281 career hitter. Puig has a higher career OBP of .357 to Mondesi’s .334 while Mondesi has a better SLG of .486 to Puig’s .475. Both players had great rookie years. In Mondesi’s case, he won the 1994 NL Rookie of the Year batting .306 with 16 HR and 56 RBI. Puig finished 2nd in rookie of the year in 2013 hitting .319 with 19 HR and 42 RBI. However, when you look at their Dodger careers as a whole Mondesi was the much better player offensively.

Arguably Puig’s best all-around season came this past year when he hit .263 with a career-high 28 HR and 74 RBI. Mondesi arguably had five straight seasons better than Puig’s last year. From 1995-1999 Mondesi averaged a slash line of .285/29/90. Puig hasn’t even been close to matching Mondesi’s consistency as a Dodger yet. This shows how good and underrated Mondesi was. We praised Puig for finally maturing last year and putting together a great all-around season. If Mondesi had put up the same exact numbers as Puig in 2017, it would’ve been seen as just another ordinary season for Raul.

Another thing that set Mondesi apart offensively over Puig was his stellar base running skills. Puig has excellent speed but still doesn’t know how to use it. He did improve a lot last year stealing a career-high 15 bases while being caught just six times, but again those numbers would’ve been seen as ordinary for Mondesi. Raul averaged 25 SB during that same 95-99 five year stretch. You could argue well nowadays stolen bases are not as common, so Puig is not getting the equal opportunities to steal that Mondesi had, but Mondesi was still more successful in his attempts succeeding 71% of the time over Puig’s 63%.

I know these numbers point to Mondesi being the better player, but I do think Puig is the more gifted player out of the two. The one thing that benefited Mondesi was that he was much more developed coming into the big leagues than Puig was. Both players debuted at the same age of 22, but Mondesi did play 294 career minor league games compared to Puig’s 91. That over 200 game difference can do a lot for a young player. Puig had to get rushed up to the majors because of the Dodgers underperforming back in 2013 and immediately let the world on fire.

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Looking back at Puig’s hot start it probably was the worst thing that could have happened to him because it led him to believe he had already arrived and didn’t need to work on his skillset. So, at this point, Mondesi was the better baseball player, and it’s not as close as I thought when I look at the numbers. But Puig still has a long way to go, and his upside is much higher than Mondesi’s was. If Puig continues to develop his skills he could easily surpass Mondesi in Dodgers lore.