Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Upcoming Rookie of the Year Announcement Should Be Puig…and Here's Why

Two years ago Ryan Braun won the National League MVP award over a statistically superior Matt Kemp because Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) members used the logic that Braun accomplished his numbers for a team in more meaningful games in the midst of a pennant race.  Many Dodger fans were outraged, but the deal was done, and even after it was discovered that Braun had cheated his way to his award through the use of performance enhancing drugs, there wasn’t anything that could change the outcome of the vote.
(photo by USA Today Sports)

Playing games in a pennant chase is definitely a different animal, but should a player that plays for team out of contention, but excels against the league as a whole be punished for that?  It didn’t seem fair that Kemp, who came a homer shy of a 40/40 season would be punished for that, but he was.  It could be argued that the Dodgers weren’t out of the race for the whole season and if Kemp had been absent from the team, they certainly would have finished much deeper in the standings than their 82-79 third place finish. 

In all fairness, you can’t have it both ways, and as the National League Rookie of the Year is named later this week, it is fairly certain that the BBWAA will contradict themselves and vote Jose Fernandez of the last place Marlins the award.  Fernandez’ numbers are impressive, and he is certainly deserving of awards, but pitching for a team that finished 62-100 and 34 games out of first place, there is the question of how much pressure he pitched under.  
(photo by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers)
When Yasiel Puig arrived to the Dodgers in June, the team was in dead last and had been written off for the year by most fans and pundits.  There is little doubt that his arrival played a major role in changing the Dodger team spirit, outlook and confidence.

The true measure of a player’s value to a team is what he does to get his team to contend, and there’s little doubt that Puig brought energy and a different attitude to a lackluster last place Dodger team when he arrived from Chattanooga a full 55 games into the season.  The winning percentage numbers don’t line. The Dodgers ended the season at a .644 clip with Puig on the roster.  It was even better in games that he played. There were immeasurable factors too that few recognized by looking at a stat sheet.  How do you measure energizing your teammates with hustle and youthful exuberance?   How do you determine the value of creating a loose clubhouse with laughter and positive vibes?  Is it possible to gauge the intensity he brought to the team in those crucial pennant chase games down the stretch?

The Puig factor was a real thing and it influenced the entire roster and changed their attitudes in 2013.  Yes, Hanley Ramirez was superior statistically, but the Uribe/Puig/Ramirez tandem was a true phenomenon that played a large role in carrying the Dodgers to the Division Championship.

It is understandable why Fernandez will win the Rookie of the Year Award, but I contend that he shouldn’t.  Then again, it’s time for me to admit something.  As much as I wanted to vote for Puig in the IBWAA vote, I placed Fernandez in the # 1 slot for ROY, and probably for two reasons.  1) because I hadn’t thought the process through as seriously as I am now and 2) in an effort to show that my votes were impartial and free of bias, I felt that by voting for Fernandez I would be displaying a professional slant, void of a prejudice favoring a player from my favorite team.

Yes, I know.  Stupid reasoning.  Absolutely stupid.

Yasiel Puig was the Rookie of the Year.  He won’t win the award and this might have been the most valuable rookie season by a  Dodger since Fernando Valenzuela.  That’s saying a lot too, but which of those many Rookies of the Year winners in Dodger history were influential in leading their team to the playoffs?  Piazza? Karros? Sax? Sutcliffe? Howe? Mondesi?

Puig did it and he won’t even win the award.


  1. I wouldn't be surprised either way. What I keep asking though is for all the games Puig contributed to the win column I wonder how many games went the other way. Not to be negative because the kid is a dynamic player and fun to watch. But I just can't help wonder if his fuse or luck will run out. He will be and is a good ballplayer, that's obvious, but can he mature and become a great ballplayer ? For me the jury is still out.

  2. I am satisfied for Yasiel not to win the ROY award. I also don't want to be seen as being negative but I think Yasiel can use a helping of humble pie. I think his number of games, 104, and insufficient number of AB's to qualify for a batting title will be a detriment to Yasiel in garnering ROY votes.

    I don't know the criteria for determining ROY but I suspect it isn't based on value to the team, but on personal success, raw stats. Value to the team seems more like MVP consideration.

  3. Gary, Puig's WAR stood at 5.0, wins above replacement is supposed to be a fairly accurate measure of the number of wins he brought to the team. 5.0 is quite remarkable when you consider he was only with the team for a little over half the season and it factor's in the negatives. We seemed to remember the overthrows and base running gaffe's but Puig still provided the team much more positive than negatives.

    Harold, I understand your MVP vs. ROY value to the team argument. I don't know if I agree with it, but I can see where you're coming from. The intangibles that Puig brought to the club were quite amazing and I thought they should have been considered in the voting.

    Fernandez getting the award certainly isn't a travesty. He was a deserving winner and 9 out of 10 years, Puig wins the award going away.