A hot topic this week has been whether or not Yasiel Puig, the Los Angeles Dodgers phenom, deserves a spot in this month’s All-Star Game.
Many point to just a hot month and a lack of experience as reasons why he should not be allowed to join.
The fact is, Puig deserves to be there.
Through 34 games, the Cuban Phenom is batting .407 with a 1.101 OPS.
He is both a speed and power threat. Through 135 at-bats, he has 8 home runs and 5 steals. Project those numbers over 162 games and he would have 38 HRs and 24 SB – a guy capable of a 20-20 season in his rookie year with a shot of 30-30.
The 30-30 club only has 39 total members. The last to enter the elite group? Mike Trout last year, a mid-season call up himself.
Puig has 55 hits. According to ESPN Stats, only Joe DiMaggio and Roy Weatherly (both with 59 in 1936) had more hits thru those first 34 games.
Of course, it has only been 34 games. Some believe throwing a rookie out there, with so little experience, takes away from veterans who have taken years to get there. Many, including Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, believe that number is too few to put him in the company of those who have played an entire season.
After all, if you only took his first month of the season, Justin Upton would be a sure-thing All-Star. He had a torrid start in April, batting .298, with 12 HR and an 1.136 OPS. As of today, Upton’s average is .248, his OPS is down to .806, and he has only hit 4 more HRs in the last 2 1/2 months.
Puig has the luxury of never having a slump on his record. We can never know what the future holds for him, and to some, that is enough to excuse him from baseball’s night for the stars.
But one thing you definitely cannot hold against Puig is his difference-making ability.
When he was called up June 3, the Dodgers were in last place in the NL West. Today, on July 10, Los Angeles sits only 3 1/2 games behind the leading Arizona Diamondbacks.
Contributing to winning has been his calling card so far and thanks to Bud Selig, the All-Star Game is about winning now too.
Since 2003, MLB has awarded the mid-summer classic’s winning league home field advantage. While managers and fans have no control over the fact that teams still must have one player from each team, no matter how bad the team is, they do have control of picking any player who could help them now.
Puig is on fire and the June 2013 MLB Player of the Month would be the best choice for any manager to have in their lineup now.
If the goal is to win, put the best product out there. Yasiel Puig is that.
Now it is up to the fans. As of the last tally Wednesday night, Puig trails the Atlanta Braves’ First Baseman Freddie Freeman in the vote. Over 33.2 million have voted and only one day remains to see which of the two will make it.
Will it be the veteran, or the similarly deserving rookie phenom?