Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers: What makes Yasiel Puig so intriguing?

He’s not exactly the Most Interesting Man in the World, but he’s close.

Few players in all of sports have the aura surrounding them that Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig does. He’s a rare breed in Major League Baseball: an outlandish player, both on and off the field, who plays with an edge and an attitude. He’s disliked by most of the mainstream baseball media, even if they haven’t already openly admitted it.

Yasiel Puig did some great things for the Dodgers in 2014, which is part of what has led to them setting their sights on a World Series title this year. He slashed .319/.391/.534/.925 and hit 19 home runs, while knocking in 42 runs, all in only 104 games. In performance, there are some parallels with Mike Trout during his rookie season, but Puig hasn’t come with the positive press that Trout got during his first year.

In addition to Puig’s top notch performance, which was no doubt also aided by a probably unsustainable .383 BABIP, there was plenty of “boneheadedness” on the part of the Cuban outfielder throughout much of the year. He was caught stealing eight times and made some mistakes in the field, all while demonstrating an attitude that turned off a massive chunk of baseball writers, as well as plenty of fans. It didn’t take him long to become one of the more polarizing players in all of baseball.

Perhaps that’s what makes him so intriguing a player in Major League Baseball. There aren’t enough good villains throughout the game. Sure, you have guys like Ryan Braun or Alex Rodriguez, but these are guys that cheated the system and paid the price, while looking foolish in the process of trying to deny it. Puig plays the game hard and he plays the game however he wants. That’s a turnoff for a lot of baseball traditionalists. Nonetheless, it makes him fun to watch.

The off-the-field stuff is concerning. The reckless driving, the weight gain. It can all be trouble for Yasiel Puig as he attempts to build on a wildly successful rookie campaign and be a key cog in the Dodger machine in 2014. What makes him so much fun to watch on the field, though, is that attitude, that emotion. He’s such an incredible athlete and can do so many things on a baseball field that have the potential to make him one of the game’s best, as long as he can avoid an early burnout. Add in theatrics that we see almost on a game-by-game basis, and it isn’t difficult to see why people love, or love to hate, Yasiel Puig.

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Tags: Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig

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