Thursday, February 6, 2014
Leading Off a Man with a .366 OBP is a Good Idea
Yasiel Puig as a leadoff hitter is a good idea. I dare you to find a lead off man in the league that posted an on-base percentage of over .366 as Puig did. And that ‘s the name of the game for the guy starting off the inning...getting on base.
OK, poor choice of words. There are a few that topped Puig’s .366 OBP. Shin Soo Choo at an astronomical .420, Matt Carpenter at .383 and Dexter Fowler at .367. That’s it folks. And for that reason alone I strongly support the decision to put Puig at the top of the lineup.
Now with a year under his belt, maturity should be setting in for the young Dodger right fielder. I look for less base running mistakes and a stolen base every now and then. It'll be nice to see him occasionally slide into bases, break up a few double plays, and pay attention to base coaches. It’ll be an adventure with Puig and an entertaining one at that, but this spring will be the decider I predict. We’ll see if he makes that concerted effort to incorporate those changes into his game. This is a player that needs to raise his baseball I.Q. An intelligent Puig between the lines is an MVP caliber type player.
It’s important for us to remember that Yasiel arrived in the majors with about 2 1/2 months of minor league seasoning under his belt and that after having a lay off of over a year away from the game while he made 9 failed attempts to defect from Cuba. Some of the goofs he was making on the field should have been in the minors outside of the spotlight. Considering that he erred on the big stage it is safe to say that his development was quite promising. Some immature players wouldn’t have handled things as well.
We saw the bumps and the glaring mistakes. The overthrows, the tauntings, the awkward slides and arrivals at bases standing up. We were aware of his tardiness to games and subsequent fines, a benching as punishment for some of his antics. We witnessed his failure to recognize the purpose of warning tracks and his all out nature to go after fly balls while ignoring emerging teammates, attempts to throw out runners and overthrow cutoff men, and flailing away at pitches outside of the strike zone.
With Puig there were a lot of growing pains, there’s no doubt about it. BUT you also can’t doubt that he’s a future MVP. An exciting player that can light up a team. This kid is a sparkplug. A team leader. He’s got pizzazz and a magnifying personality that few players bring to the ball park. Yes, he’s a wild horse as Vin Scully identified him. He’s a wild stallion that needs to be broken and tamed. Once that happens, the Dodgers will have Secretariat on their hands. Hopefully that player emerges this season, but even if he doesn't, I'd take a Puig with all his flaws any day of the week.