Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig has been in the big leagues less than a year, yet it feels more like three or four. Maybe more.
That’s because the Cuban defector, with as much promise as predicaments, has drawn the attention of the professional baseball community like few ever do.
Last season he came on like a lightening rod from outer space, grabbing the attention of all those within sight, then crumpled into ashes before our eyes as a lack of discipline and big league experience exposed him for what he was. A rookie.
Going into this season with a white-hot spotlight and astronomical expectations on him and his expensive Dodger teammates, Puig was on the launching pad. The place where rockets that burn so bright, but burn less long, waiting to be shot off into oblivion as one-year-wonders, sit. Well, it looks like we’ll be waiting a little longer, as Puig, now a two-year wonder, has begun to light it up.
On Friday night, the 23-year old outfielder extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a 3-5 performance including his eighth home run and an RBI double. He also scored 2 runs. Oh, and did I mention the Dodgers won? Another dominating win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, this one 7-0.
For all the attention that Puig has brought to his team, both positive and negative, don’t underestimate the victories when it comes to Puig. After all, if last year’s big blue turn around is just a coincidence with Puig’s arrival to the parent club, then it’s time to create a saber metric for infectious winning attitude.
True, the Dodgers are still just three games over .500 and are currently at the mercy of the NL West leading San Francisco Giants, but that doesn’t seem to scare Puig.
Overall, the strikeouts that seemed to doom Puig at the end of last season have disappeared. The discipline at the plate suddenly does not resemble the reckless driver who two months ago couldn’t ven make it the stadium on time for BP. The errors in the field he started to collect last year trying to do too much on just raw ability have also waned.
Nothing for Puig has seemed to change externally during this year of mega-attention. The guy still thumps the famous logo across his chest, still flips his bat—seemingly without effort all the way back to the dugout by the way, and draws the ire of opposing pitchers regularly with his youthful posturing.
This is all good in the baseball world, however, especially when those types of antics come with a .420 BA over a two-week span.
The really scary part for opposing teams is, Puig appears to be settling into the role projected on him a year ago as baseball’s next greatest all around player.