The Puig Experiment Could Work for the Dodgers
He's played all of one inning this year in center field this season but that could change as the season winds down
Friday, Jul 25, 2014 • Updated 9:39 AM PDT
National League All-Star Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 85th MLB All-Star Game at Target Field on July 15, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
I was all set to write about Don Mattingly’s foolish move Wednesday against the Pirates putting Yasiel Puig in center field for an inning.
Why take the all-star right fielder out of his comfort zone and open the possibility that he’s the answer to the Dodgers center fielder problem.
It was Mattingly who told ESPN that Puig plays "out of control most of the time," and "scares the other outfielders," because he goes so hard (No ambulances were called Wednesday, so you’d have to consider it a success).
And, since I said Matt Kemp is the team’s best option at that spot, surely the skipper wouldn’t go completely the other direction and put the glove-totting battering ram in center, risking the lives of his other outfielders.
Then I remembered I could watch videos on the very medium this story is posted on.
I’ve seen Kemp and Puig play just about every game this season, but I also looked at last year’s games to do an eye test on the two.
Kemp is a great athlete. When healthy, he moves his 215 pound frame gracefully, like he did making a game-saving catch last season against the Giants. But, when Kemp sees he can’t get to a ball, he looks like he’s jogging on the sands of Hermosa Beach.
For Puig, not getting there is not an option.
Case in point, the catch at Citi Field in New York earlier this season. Puig had no business catching that ball. If anyone should’ve, it was the center fielder but Puig has shattered the logic of conventional baseball thinking.
Puig goes after balls like there’s a plane ticket back to Cuba waiting if he doesn’t make the catch. He’s just a better athlete than Kemp, Ethier and Van Slyke put together. I still don’t think he’s the Dodgers long-term solution but it’s July 25th. Their season ends in two months, the club has five outfielders but nobody to play center.
Maybe the Puig experiment could work.
I doubt Mattingly will send him back out there anytime soon with an actual game on the line, especially with a pivotal three-game series starting today against the San Francisco Giants.
But, the "wild horse" may be seen running around the middle of the outfield again before the season ends.