Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) walks back to the dugout after striking out during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants. After less than 50 games to push is on to send him to the ASG and it just isn't right.

Yasiel Puig: However You Vote He May Be An All Star

Is Yasiel Puig the reincarnation of a love child between Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig or perhaps a player whose DNA was altered by Fidel Castro in the secret labs of Cuba? Maybe he’s just a baseball player having a good month.  In any case he absolutely positively MUST be a part of the All Star game.  Or at least that’s what ESPN and several pundits want you to believe. He is after all the next <fill in your favorite legend’s name here> and has done the absolutely impossible flawlessly . . .well not flawlessly but superbly … okay he’s screwed up like an A-ball player but man he can hit and run and  hit and run and throw and.. and . . . and man he’s cool etc. etc. etc.   Whatever you think about who he is and what he’s done and whatever the fan vote totals actually are, I’m fairly certain Puig will be an All Star. How do I know that? I watch TV and I can read.

There’s no doubt the arrival of Yasiel Puig re-energized a Dodger team that was floundering and possibly saved Don Mattingly from an ill deserved dismissal. In Puig’s first 32 games – 135 plate appearances -  his slash is .409/.437/.677.  That’s a record for a rookie but similar numbers in terms of OPS and WAR have been seen before.

In 2005 this player arrived in the majors for the first time and set the town on fire. His slash for the first 32 games was .380/.385/.739 (that’s a 1.125 OPS for the hard of adding) with 10 home runs including a three run shot in his first at bat.  He finished the year with a 3.0 rWAR (I don’t have any idea how to calculate that for 32 games) because he displayed a rifle arm that earned him 13 outfield assists for the season. Everyone said he was the next great thing but no one begged for his inclusion in the ASG and he was only ninth in rookie of the year voting.  His name is Jeff Francoeur currently in DFA limbo and searching for a job. There’s another player doing similar things this year too.

Red Sox’ shortstop/third baseman Jose Iglesias  through his first 32 games –117 PA – had a slash of .438/.487/.581 and who after another 13 games was still hitting .395/.446/.507.  While Iglesias hasn’t hit for as much power as the LA golden boy and hasn’t been nearly as flashy,  his OPS after 32 games (1.068) was certainly within spitting distance of Puig.  Iglesias plays a premium position (primarily a SS where he hasn’t made an error this year ) along with two other infield positions second ( no errors) and third (two errors.)  Puig has twice as many errors as Iglesias and he plays one position: right field.  Everyone should just calm down a bit but of course that isn’t the style of ESPN and unfortunately some MLB Network pundits

ESPN, today’s Worldwide Leader in Poker, Lacrosse and LeBron James highlights has little influence over informed baseball fans. Their act is tired and their delivery dated. That doesn’t stop them and their minions from assuming they know best. As noted by many (I’ll link the Braves site because it’s handy Smile)   the ESPN Web Site originally started out as campaign manager and head cheerleader for Puig. Then someone told them they were supposed to be a news organization so they changed the wording from “Vote Puig”  to something less obvious but that still makes it clear you the voter are an idiot if you don’t agree with their conclusion (he deserves to be there.)  On Sunday night’s ESPN bore cast ( I was trapped on a bus coming back from a Rangers game so I had no choice but to watch) Dan Schulman pontificated for all baseball fans when he said that “fans everywhere want to see Puig.”  Sorry to disillusion Dan and ESPN, they do not. As the current MLB fan voting map (you may have to chose NL because it defaults to the AL vote first) shows Dodger and southern California fans undoubtedly want to see him but Giants’ fans would rather see Hunter Pence and Braves fans (most know I am a Braves fan, if you didn’t you do now) want to see Freddie Freeman (shameless #VoteFreddie plug) who’s hitting .371/.463/.543 with 21 RBI in 42 plate appearances with two out and RISP and who’s been leading their best hitter since day one.

Since ESPN caters more to casual baseball fans and those folks don’t vote nonstop for any player – they simply don’t care enough – I’m not sure how effective they will be in their quest to grant sainthood to Puig. Casual fans may vote 10 or 20 times but they’ll lose interest soon and stop. Committed fans will vote whenever they get time and continuously for their man. So will Puig win? Probably not but it may not make a difference.

The Rules Are The Rules Until They Aren’t

We’ve already seen that MLB is willing to change rules to fit desires. Originally players on the ballot for final man were those who just missed being picked in fan voting. This year however Puig mania resulted in his addition.   It’s fairly obvious the rules for the final man vote were driven purely by who the media loves, so anything is possible. That’s right folks I think they’ve decided already, I think Puig will be there even if he doesn’t get the most votes.

All Star Game ratings are as important to MLB as they are to FOX Sports. ESPN has the horribly dated and increasingly absurd home run derby that has way too much time to fill and they need something to talk about. Everyone has a reason for Puig to be there that involves money and they really don’t care who wins as long as they can pump up ratings with talk of Puig.  Puig will be there, some how some way he’ll be there.

That’s A Wrap

Let me make this clear, I do not hate Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers or those fans who truly want to see him at the game. Puig is a pawn in this game of MLB ratings dollars and punditry. I do dislike the capricious nature with which some pundits and ESPN throw around selective stats to support their opinion and tell the public that they know everyone wants to see Puig when objectively that’s simply not true.

The ASG is not the place to play like a little leaguer. It should be a showcase for the best in baseball, professionals playing the game like professionals. They can he enthusiastic and exuberant professionals certainly but professionals playing without making little league mistakes. When they decide to take the extra base, attempt a steal or try to throw a runner out at home, it’s because their experience and training leads them to believe that’s the right course of action not because they’re so excited they can’t control themselves.

All of this would be less of a problem if we didn’t have the ridiculous “This One Counts” rule in place.  Because it counts the players who expect to be in the post season must be able to depend on each other to make good baseball decisions. If they lose they want ti to be because they were out played not because of a little league mistake. It’s bad enough the ASG determines home field advantage, losing home field advantage for the World Series because of a little league mistake is simply unacceptable.

Maybe they are right and Puig will go on to be the greatest thing since Mike Trout. Maybe he’ll just be an ordinary player or maybe he will turn into Jeff Francoeur.   Whatever happens in the future Puig shouldn’t be at Citi Field as a participant this year. He can watch it on TV like the rest of us and dream on next year.


Tags: Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig

  • Bigmouth

    I’m a Giants fan and I still find this “analysis” weak. You purport to compare these guys’ WAR but never actually mention Puig’s. It turns out that Puig (2.5 WAR in 33 games) has already matched Iglesias’s entire career production (2.5 WAR in 81 games) and almost reached Francoeur’s rookie total (3 WAR in 70 games). Basically, Puig has produced the same value as the guys you mention but in only half the games.

    Also, on what planet would Mattingly’s dismissal be “ill deserved”?

    • fireboss

      I’m sorry you’re disappointed that I failed to mention his 2.2 WAR (at the time I put the numbers together) I didn’t mention his -0.2 dWar (then) though I see now it’s up to 0.3. And Iglesias numbers are for this year just like Puig’s. How they are doing now is the point is it not? He’s great now so he should go is what I hear everyone saying. The point that I obviously didn’t make clear is that one month does not make an all start. Players have had numbers very close to Puigs all around numbers before but weren’t considered All Star Game worthy, He will come back to earth and it may have already started. Over the last seven days Puig line was 269/.286/.346 as pitchers get a better hold on him and your Giants handed him a golden sombrero the other night. He may eventually become a superstar but he’s just as likely to end up like Frenchy it’s far to easy to know one way or the other.
      Meanwhile as everyone yaps on about Puig teammate Hanley Ramirez has put up a line of .419/.456/.743/1.199. on the year and unlike Puigs slide his slash over the past seven days was up at .500/.556/.880/1.436.

      Hanley might well make the all star team if Tulo can’t play.

      Mattingly can’t be blamed for fielding a team held together with bandaids and superglue. The Dodgers began the year with more starters than anyone in the league but injury turned a deep rotation into Kershaw and Ryu who isn’t on the DL tonight?

      Until Hanley returned the left side of the Dodger infield was made up of bench sitters who couldn’t spit and hit the ground and whose defense wasn’t particularly noteworthy. That again is not his fault, With Kemp ailing and Crawford not yet back the outfield was pieced together as well and the bullpen depended on an overpaid signing that was a huge mistake. League blew five saves and when a GM puts his neck out with that big a payday a manager must use him. I know fans say they’d do it differently but the manager works for the GM and when the GM says League closes, League closes. That’s just the way it is. Now Jansen is in the saddle, Hanley is back, Puig arrived and the team is scoring runs. They’ve come from being out of it to being in second place and will likely win the division if your Giants don’t find a way to score more runs..
      If it was Mattingly’s fault they were losing with bad players he must get the credit for winning with good ones. Why fire him?

      If you say that better players are making the difference – and players are largely the reason why teams succeed or fail – then the obvious conclusion is that bad players were the reason they lost. That’s something beyond his control and it makes no sense to fire Mattingly.for player decisions the GM made.

      • Bigmouth

        Yes, I’m annoyed you would write an article comparing Puig on the basis of WAR… then omit any mention of his WAR. Seems like journalism 101 to me.

        And Iglesias’s numbers are NOT “just like Puig’s.” Puig has amassed more WAR in fewer games and plate appearance. That is my whole point.

        Lastly, Mattingly’s been a laughingtock the past few years. The only reason he still has a job is that joke of a GM you mention.

        • fireboss

          You really do sound like more of a Dodger fan than a Giant fan in this instance. I digress, you still miss the point. I’ll try again. This isn’t a direct comparison of a shortstop and a right fielder, or even two right fielders. it’s my position that having superior numbers for a month whether you are a rookie or not doesn’t mean you’re an All Star, it means you had a great month.

          As i pointed out, Puig isn’t even the the hottest player on the Dodgers nor was he the difference maker Hanley Ramirez has a better slash and in July (.441/..486/.735/1.222 vs .324/.368/.500/..868) and while I can’t quantify WAR over that period Hanley’s WPA is 0.457 while Puig’s is .002. Similarly Hanley’s RE24 is 4.58 to Puig’s 0.01. Both men are carrying unsustainable BAbip numbers of course. Hanley might just end up at the ASG if Tulo isn’t up to it.

          The point – if I haven’t beaten it to death by now – is this. If a record breaking month doesn’t make proven players with a history of performance at the highest level an all star a raw, mistake prone rookie isn’t an all star either.

          • Bigmouth

            And you sound like a know-it-all who filibusters in the face of legitimate criticism. To recap, I took issue (1) with your comparison of Puig with Iglesias and Francoeur, and (2) your claim Mattingly doesn’t deserve to be fired.

            All that yammering about Hanley Ramirez has nothing to do with anything I said. But since you mentioned it, Puig has provided more value (2.6 WAR) than Hanley (2.5 WAR) in the same number of games (35). Oops… lol.

          • fireboss

            And I keep telling you it wasn’t a comparison. I was simply pointing out that not every great start is treated the same.

            Don Mattingly’s team is in second place and likely to win the West. That is awful management isn’t it?

            Hanley is 0.1 behind Puig wow that’s a huge margin. Or not

            How many time has he thrown to the wrong base or run into an out and Killed a rally this month. Oh that’s right none. Saw Puig do it at least three times. . .

            Puigs last seven days .250/.323/.286….Hanley .423/.483/.769

          • Bigmouth

            Not a comparison? Do you even read what you write?

            You said: “There’s another player doing similar things this year too.” Sure sounds like a comparison to me. In this case, they aren’t treating their starts the same BECAUSE THEY AREN’T THE SAME. Duh.

            Don Mattingly has (or did, last I checked) the worst record of any manager in Dodger history. ‘Nuff said.

            Finally, Ramirez’s being slightly behind Puig in WAR is directly relevant considering YOU were the one who said Ramirez was MORE of a difference maker than Puig over the same period.

            But, hey, you keep right on spouting meaningless slash lines from seven-game sample sizes lol. At the end of the year, we’ll see who’s right.

          • fireboss

            Similar is means resembling it doesn’t mean the same.

            The slash line indicates a downward trend for your main man but of course that isn’t important and i sno more meaningless than a 0.1 difference in WAR but ok whatever you think is right. Let’s agree to disagree on the Puig thing. Freeman is the last man and now we’ll see how they will wiggle Puig into the game.

            Don Mattingly is at best the third best manager in the division but he took the team Joe Torre – generally considered a HoF manager – and finished 80-82 with in 2009 and improved -albeit marginally – to 82-79. The next year, with a team and management in turmoil the record improved again to 86-76. This year Kemp has been injured and not himself all year, Hanley started on the DL and played only 4 games before June, Grienke missed time with the shoulder injury, Billingsly went down with a torn UCL, Beckett injured and out for the year, Ted Lilly hasn’t pitched enough to matter, Capuano’s made only 10 starts, Brandon League was a disaster as a closer costing them 5 games in blown saves yet the team is 45-45 in second place and have won 15 of their last 20. With Jansen set as the closer, Hanley, your man Puig and A-Gon hitting they look poised to win the division. The Giants are in a death spiral pitching wise. The Padres underpowered and their pitching isn’t great either. The Rockies are … well being the Rockies and lack pitching they can depend on. The Dodgers main competition is the D’backs, a team they swept in Phoenix this weekend. I’d say he’s poised to be above 500 again this year and likely take them to the post season.

            Obviously none of that makes any difference to you as a Giants fan.

  • Rhonda Wood

    Who cares about the All Star game, why do you think they gave home field to the winner? No one was watching it anymore! The Dodgers were 9.5 games back before Puig came up from AA ball, if they win tonight, they will 1.5 games out of 1st, that’s what counts most to Dodger fans. You being a tomahawk fan you should worry about the way the Upton’s are hitting! Rather than Puig making the phoney ALL STAR GAME, played with players from the Giants, THE WORST team to win 2 WS in baseball history! What a joke Bruce B. is, not putting the Little Leaguer on the team!

    • fireboss

      Since Hanley returned they’re 20-13. He’s also hitting a getter than Puig. I hope you’re thanking Hanley too.
      Home field advantage as via the ASG is as I said a joke. But while I hate it I understand the advantage of having it. You will too if the Dodgers get tot the classic and have to face the Red Sox at Fenway instead of Dodger Stadium.
      since you mentioned it, Justin Upton has been warming up of late. In his last two games (before today) he has 4 doubles a homer and 5 RBI., Bj is what BJ is, a bad signing. What can I say about that? Oh yeah I know; Brandon League. :)

      • Rhonda Wood

        Hanley, and Puig have carried this team on their backs, although AJ ELLIS and Gonzo, and J, Uribe, are now getting key hits, with men in scoring position. Needless to say Dodgers pitching, has gotten better in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings also. It’s not looking good for Kemp again this year, so Puig is a blessing.

        • fireboss

          An accurate assessment of a team I think is about to take over the west and not look back. Kemp’s injury troubles are a shame. he’s such a gifted athlete and a quality individual as well and that makes it even a bigger shame. With luck he’ll be back by the post season. . .in time to lose to the Braves in the post season :)

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