For today’s position preview we hop into right field. That’s where enigmatic and flashy Yasiel Puig roams free. The Dodgers have tried to reel him in over the last several years. To Puig’s credit he reportedly matured in 2017. His prolific antics were more silly and entertaining than controversial last season. Puig has always been a silly guy anyways, but you all know this already. Puig did mature on and off the field as his bounce back season was a big boon for the Dodger lineup.
Whether the Dodgers were successful in taming the Wild Horse is subjective, but we can still admire the amount of work Puig put in to get back to the level he was at in 2017. Despite Puig’s improved power and plate discipline it’s still important to note that his batting and on-base skills are still nowhere near the levels they were when he first broke into the majors with the Dodgers in 2013-2014. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look and compare his batting lines and on-base numbers from those years to last year.
2013 – .319/.391/.534 OPS+ 159
2014- .296/.382/.480 OPS+ 145
2017 .263/.346/.487 OPS+ 118
As you can see his batting and on-base numbers have dipped about 50 points from those early years. I don’t know what the exact reason for the decline is. The on-base percentages are what worry me the most. However the good news is that Puig drew 64 walks in 2017 which was the most since his 2014 season when he collected 67 free passes. Keep in mind that Puig had 131 hits last year, 34 less in comparison to his 2014 season in which he got 165 hits. However his isolated power mark of .224 was the best of his career. Thanks in part to him belting 28 home runs and driving in 74 runs over his 570 plate appearances. Increased power was the name of the game for Puig in 2017. He also was pretty durable last year as he played in 152 games. He also swiped 15 bags on the base paths.
Puig had a terrific NLDS against Arizona. In that series he batted .455 (5 for 11) with a double, triple and four runs batted in. He excelled in the NLCS against Chicago as well. He batted .389 (7 for 18) with 6 runs scored, 1 home run and 4 walks. Unfortunately he disappeared in the World Series. He batted just .148 (4 for 27) during the fall classic. He did crush two important home runs though.
Puig continues to display fantastic defense and it’s easy to see why many people consider him to be one of the best defensive right fielders in the game. It’s not just his cannon for an arm, but his range and glove work are all top notch. Puig registered 18 defensive runs saved above average and then also tallied a +12 total zone fielding runs above average. He was foolishly snubbed for a gold glove but was honored with a Wilson award as he took home a defensive player of the year award. It was well deserved. The Dodgers were also named the top defensive club of the year.
Trade Rumors swirled
Even though Puig was pretty awesome in 2017, the Dodgers still had discussions of trading the 27-year old. As a matter of fact they had a theoretic swap with the Red Sox for Jackie Bradley Jr. on the docket, but Boston declined the offer. If the Dodgers don’t end up moving him, they’ll enjoy two more seasons under team control before Puig can test the free agent waters. The final year is an arbitration year before Puig can officially file for free agency in 2020. Puig is due to earn 9.2 million dollars in 2018.
The Dodgers may decide to trade Puig in the near future, but I think we’re all glad that they haven’t. Not only is the guy super talented, but he’s entertaining as all heck. He’s another big power bat in the middle of the Dodger’s order with a cannon arm that plays superlative outfield defense. It should behoove the Dodgers to keep him around for a while.