Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is called safe at home, as catcher Welington Castillo #5 of the Chicago Cubs reacts in the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on August 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
We’ve got the best baseball player in the world, Mike Trout, and the most exciting player on the planet, Yasiel Puig, within 30 miles of one another and it could be that way for the next decade.
Let that sink in for a minute.
By themselves Trout and Puig have made the Freeway Series, the next installment of which starts today at Chavez Ravine, worth watching. Sure, their respective teams the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I still can’t believe that name is allowed to exist) and the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing well but, let’s be real, without them, a Josh Hamilton-Hanley Ramirez showdown is not selling out any stadiums.
Trout and Puig are pay-per-view worthy.
Puig has killed it all season. He’s second in the National League in batting average (.323), second in triples (nine), second in slugging percentage (.551), second in OPS (.959) third in on-base percentage (.407) and just to show he’s actually human, Puig’s been caught stealing seven times, sixth most in the league.
With Troy Tulowitzki hurt, Puig has quietly taken over front-runner status in the NL MVP race, but when does the Wild Horse do anything quietly. I mean, he had Dodger Stadium buzzing Friday when he scored from second base on a fielder’s choice, and with a slide that left Chicago Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo grabbing for air.
I'm still trying to figure out how in the world Puig pulled it off.
Puig's counterpart, and equal, in the ridiculously-fast-and-absurdly-strong category, Mike Trout, is making a run at an MVP Award, which we've become accustomed to in his short big league career.
Three years in the majors, Trout's been MVP runner-up twice. He could, in all likelihood, win it this season. Stop and think about that for a minute. Who does that? Really?
But, he's had to work to get on track this year.
On May 18, Trout went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. His batting average dropped to .263, he was striking out a ton and it seemed as though pitchers had found his kryptonite -- high fastballs. It didn't help that he dealt with Tiger Woods-like back issues.
I don't know what happened, but something clicked. Trout got hits in 24 of his next 25 games and, voila, Superman was back tearing up the American League. Now, he's second in runs scored (76), second in on-base percentage (.394), second in OPS (.979) third in slugging percentage (.585), fourth in RBIs (80) and fifth in homers (25).
Puig is only 23 years old and Trout turns 23 on Thursday.
I chuckle with sympathy for pitchers in both leagues because they won't have a chance when these guys turn 25.