So you thought Hollywood had enough stars? Well, a Cuban defector whose raw talents combine with the likes of Bo Jackson and Hercules, has emerged as Los Angeles and all of baseball’s newest coming attraction.
The very idea of Yasiel Puig being an All-Star after only a month’s work would seem preposterous to most old-timers of baseball. The crazier idea, however, is keeping the game’s most intriguing player out of the Midsummer Classic.
People believe that the only thing keeping the Dodgers alive in the NL West does not deserve the nod after being called up on June 3rd. Before you jump to that answer, remember the origin of the All-Star Game.
The game was created in 1933 by Chicago Tribune sports writer, Arch Ward, during Chicago’s Century of Progress exposition. Now, the central idea of attracting people and to help the game’s relevancy is the same.
If you want to attract people, you need Puig. Since his arrival, he is all that baseball fans can talk about and he deserves it all. He debuted with two hits and threw an absolute seed from right field to double-off the runner at first base to defeat the San Diego Padres.
Puig just finished his dominating June in Puig fashion. He collected four hits, a home run shy of the cycle, and led the Dodgers to a 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The four hits just added to his historical month, and gave him 44 in June, which broke the Dodgers rookie record for most hits in a month. In the span of a month, he leads the National League in multiple categories since being called up.
Since his arrival, Puig leads the majors in hits with 44, leads the NL in batting average hitting .436, leads the NL with a .467 on-base percentage and is in the top three in home runs (seven), runs (19), slugging percentage (.713), and total bases (72).
Puig’s 44 hits are second to only Joe DiMaggio’s 48 in 1936 for most hits in a debut calendar month. DiMaggio hit .381 during the span.
After only 26 games, making a case for a player to be an All-Star seems crazy. With Puig, this is different. This is bigger than the movies, bigger than Hollwood. Puig has taken over baseball not just with his off-the-charts stats, but his demeanor and the hard-nosed way he plays the game.
Thanks to a YouTube video of Puig making a diving catch (see below) in right field while playing in Cuba, the phenom caught the eyes of scouts and the Dodgers wanted to make him the highest paid defector, signing him to a seven-year, $42 million contract.
Puig can do it all on the baseball field. He is one of just a few in baseball who can call themselves true five-tool players. These players must possess speed, power, hit for average, defense and arm strength.
Besides Puig, here are baseball’s other five-tool players when healthy, in no particular order.
1. Carlos Gonzalez
2. Troy Tulowitzki
3. Mike Trout
4. Bryce Harper
5. Matt Kemp
6. Ryan Braun
7. Andrew McCutchen
8. Adam Jones
That’s it. Just nine players are true five-tool players, including Puig. Another Cuban, Yoenis Cespedes, has the tools to join the list one day as well.
For those that are against Puig as an All-Star, what would be accomplished by keeping the most polarizing figure in baseball out of the most entertaining game? Absolutely nothing.
Puig is not being inducted into the Hall of Fame or even being given the Rookie of the Year. He would simply be rewarded with what he has been the whole time he has worn Dodger blue: an All-Star.
The 22-year-old would be the most exciting attraction of the game, and oh yeah, if you want home-field advantage for the World Series, this guy just might be able to help with that too.