Earlier this week, Fox Sports ran an article about it being time for the Dodgers to trade Yasiel Puig. Many fans of the Dodgers took exception to it. I highly doubt that Puig himself read it, but he responded the next day by promptly hitting two homers.
Ever since his explosive emergence on the scene, Puig has been the subject of many an article — should he be traded, is he a clubhouse cancer, will he ever live up to his true potential. It’s hard to think of a player in the last four years who has drawn so much ire and love from fans, and sometimes both at the same time.
Indeed, to many that are not Dodgers fans, one could see how he could be seen in such a light. Showing up late, breaking bats across his knee. Rumors of making a starting Dodger pitcher so mad that he threw Puig’s belongings off a team bus, getting sent down to Triple-A and immediately rolling out a party bus for those there. Sounds bad. While his time in the big leagues has not been a smooth road, I am firmly in the camp that he should remain with the team and not be trade fodder at the deadline.
Currently, Puig is sitting at a .241/.313/.435/.748 slash line. He is second on the team with 12 home runs, second in RBI, and second on the team in walks. He has 26 base-on-balls this year — he had 24 through the whole season last year, and 26 in 2015. If you extrapolate that, he could get close to his career high of 67 walks in 2014. He’s not leading the team in strikeouts — that honor belongs to Corey Seager. He’s actually tied for fourth in Ks with Chris Taylor. Yasiel also leads the team in stolen bases, with nine.
Where Puig really excels is on defense. He’s a plus-plus defender who is known throughout the league as someone you don’t run on. He’s a human highlight reel with that rocket arm of his, daring runners to chance it, and nine times out of ten they think about it. In Sunday’s game against the Reds, Puig caught a ball, fell on his stomach, before popping up and throwing to home, and the runner on third still didn’t attempt it, even in a close game.
There also is no bigger cheerleader on the team, save maybe Enrique Hernandez. He’s always fun to watch, good for a wiggle or eyebrow raise, or hearty high-fives and rousing rounds of applause for his teammates. The same emotion he may show when he doesn’t do well is also sent right back out in love to his teammates.
So this all begs the question, who are you going to get to replace him if you did trade him? Ryan Braun is he most oft mentioned name in that area. Currently, Braun’s slash line is .262/.350/.524/875 with seven home runs. However, that is only through 30 games, as he is on the disabled list, with no set timetable to return. He is a career .303/.366/.544/.910 guy, but his arm is not as good.
Where the Dodgers really need help is in the pitching department, both starting and relief. Trading Puig to get a pitcher does not make any sense, because who is going to replace him? Currently on the farm, there is Trayce Thompson, Brett Eibner and Scott Van Slyke. Any one could handle the defense, but not as well as Puig. Eibner has not been great at the plate in the time he’s been up with the team. Thompson has finally been producing at Oklahoma City, and Van Slyke has said he’s feeling like his old self again. Would they produce enough offensively to replace Puig? Is that a gamble one would want to make?
While he still does have mental lapses, like flipping the two finger salute to hecklers in Cleveland, his good far outweighs the bad. There have been no rumors of discontent amongst his teammates, and manager Dave Roberts has the perfect demeanor to deal with Puig. He brings a level of fun and a must-watch element to this team, because you never quite know what’s going to happen. No one can replace his defense. He has endeared himself to the fan base, too, despite his shortcomings. Well over 80% of fans think that he should not be traded, or in the very least, it would have to be for a mother-load of return.
It’s time to end the dialogue on if or when Puig should be traded. Just like some fans are missing out on watching Cody Bellinger in favor of Aaron Judge, the same fans are also missing the quietly strong season Puig is having. And that’s okay, because we Dodgers fans notice and appreciate the talent and player that is Yasiel Puig.
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