The Dodgers have had a shaky start to the season. This includes nearly every player not named Yasmani Grandal or Matt Kemp. This is especially the case for right fielder Yasiel Puig.
After a breakthrough season in 2017, Yasiel has struggled early on in 2018. He is slashing a measly .195/.256/.244 which is down significantly from every single year he has previously played.
This comes as an unpleasant surprise to fans everywhere because it looked like in 2017 he had finally turned the cover and would become at least a portion of the player we thought he would be when he got off to that unreal start during his rookie season. 2018 was supposed to be the year Yasiel Puig proved he had finally become a consistent player.
However, that has just not been the case for Puig early in 20187. That is of course if you are looking at numbers and his lack of production. If you have been watching the Dodgers daily you can see, Puig has been one of the unluckiest players in baseball this season.
His approach this season has looked pretty good. Staying away from balls off the outer plate and hitting pitches that are in the middle of the plate. He has kept that approach on from last season, but the success has just not been there for him at the moment.
Yasiel Puig has been hitting the ball hard and getting deep into the count before ultimately getting out. The work has been done he is just not getting the results he expects or desires. He has just been flat out unlucky at times, and that can really get to a ballplayer as hungry to succeed as Yasiel is.
Puig has torched balls just foul; crushed line drives right at people, has had spectacular plays made against him like Trayce Thompson robbing his home run at Dodger Stadium earlier in the season. Puig has done so much for him to be successful, but he is the perfect example of how cruel baseball can be at times. Puig’s .246 BABIP is a tell-tale sign in just how unlucky he has been so far this season. His 93.7 MPH of average exit velocity ranks him in the top 30 for all hitters in baseball and is an indication that he has been squaring up the ball well.
This lack of luck can be as frustrating as ever and you can tell Puig’s frustration is beginning to take a toll on him. He is starting to revert back to old habits in an overreaction to his bad start. He had some ugly looking at-bats against the Marlins during that series.
Luckily for Puig, he has a hitting coach he loves (literally) and will trust Turner Ward to help guide him through this rough patch that he has struggled with to open up the season. He should not look at the results of his work but look at how hard he has hit the ball and how well he has looked with his approach at the plate and eventually the results will follow.
Puig is one big game away from reverting back to his 2017 form. Who knows when that game will be or if it will even come? But if it does come, Puig will have his “mojo” back. Last season his success was very important to the team. He was the best number eight hitter in baseball, and that earned him a promotion this season, but he has not thrived batting higher up in the order.
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Yasiel Puig is a very interesting case. He came up with a whole lot of hype. He surpassed that early on and raised his expectation even higher during his rookie season. His sophomore season was good as he made the all-star game, but it was not quite what everyone expected after that ridiculous rookie year.
His third season was plagued by injuries. Same could be said about his fourth season in 2016, but even when he was healthy he struggled enough that it warranted a demotion to triple A. His 2017 season was great for the young Cuban, who finally looked like he matured and was very close to turning a corner and becoming a big part of the Dodgers roster.
Last season was important for him. However, it can be argued that this season is just as important, maybe even more important. He can be a free agent at the end of the year, and his unluckiness will carry over with him into the off-season. That is because Puig will likely be a forgotten name in free agency with the likes of Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson and Clayton Kershaw all with the opportunity to be free agents.
So, Yasiel Puig’s time wearing blue could come to an end soon. Hopefully, it is not, and we get to see his bat licking antics. This season has been rough for him thus far, numbers wise. He is still looking good at the plate; he is just getting unlucky. If he keeps his approach the same and avoids frustration, he will get back on track and earn himself a nice contract after this season.