Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig has been putting up huge numbers and causing major controversy since his callup this June. One thing he’s not getting enough attention for is his incredible play in the outfield.
In such a short time, Puig has amassed a highlight reel a ten-year veteran would be jealous of. The 22-year-old Cuban combines freakish tools with all-out effort (at times) to get to balls not many others could track down. And if there’s anything he can’t get to, he’s got a cannon of a right arm that can keep opposing runners from taking the extra base.
You’ve seen the walk-off hits, the big numbers and have heard all about the immaturity issues. Now here’s a look at Puig’s five best defensive plays as a Dodger:
Aug. 31: Puig throws out Rivera trying to score
Puig’s latest gem came this weekend, as he threw a one-hop strike to nail Rene Rivera trying to score from second base. Puig’s aggressiveness has gotten him into trouble in the past, but on this play he did a nice job of taking a controlled approach to the ball and got him self set nicely to make that accurate throw. “Oh to be 22 and a Dodger.” Gotta love Vin Scully.
June 8: Puig’s bullet catches Simmons trying to go first-to-third
Another great throw from Puig, this one had a higher degree of difficulty. First, he was playing very deep and had a long way to run in just to get to the ball. Second, it was a rolling grounder, meaning he had to go from a full sprint to stretch all the way down to pick up the ball then get back up into a position to make the throw. Third, it was Andrelton Simmons running, not a catcher. To top it all off the throw was literally perfect, as Luis Cruz didn’t have to move an inch to place the tag. What a marksman.
Aug. 2: Puig makes superman diving catch at Wrigley
Puig shows his elite speed and quickness on this play. With that kind of boost, he has not only the arm, but the range that very few (if any) other right fielders possess today. Impressive stuff.
Aug. 14: Puig snipes Byrd trying to advance to third
What can I say, I’m a sucker for a great throw. Getting an outfield assist is such a game-changing boost for the pitcher. Instead of runners at the corners with no outs, you’ve got a man on first with one out. That makes a huge swing in an inning. This one’s my favorite of Puig’s throws. He has to field an odd hop, gets rid of the ball quickly and he unloads with such force it takes him clear off his own two feet. An absolute laser beam of a toss.
July 22: Puig hammers into the Rogers Centre video board
This is my personal favorite among Puig’s many impressive defensive highlights. His effort has been called into question in recent weeks, but more often than not, Puig is playing with a fire you rarely see in a baseball player. Just the fact he makes it to this ball is impressive (notice how early right fielder Skip Schumaker quits on it) and you have to give him credit for making the grab despite playing an unfamiliar position in an unfamiliar ballpark. If you watch his arm extend as he approaches the wall, it’s clear he’s not really sure when the moment of impact is coming, but he doesn’t pull back or alligator arm it. And that’s the funnest part of watching Puig play the outfield: he wants every ball and will stop at nothing to make a play.
Like him or not, Yasiel Puig is one of the most electrifying players in the game. At bat, on the bases or in the field, he has the ability to completely turn a game in one instant. He certainly has some growing up to do, but he is already the real deal between the lines.