In the bottom of the sixth in Tuesday's game, a game in which the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Miami Marlins were tied at four runs apiece, Don Mattingly put Yasiel Puig into the lineup with a defensive substitution; Puig replaced J.P. Howell.
Puig had been benched and fined earlier for arriving to the ballpark late, thus violating a team rule. He was the first batter up for the Dodgers in the top of the eight. He then did something he always seems to do: surprise us.
Puig hit the first pitch he saw of the night—delivered by Marlins reliever Dan Jennings—into the stands in left-center field, and in doing so gave Los Angeles the lead. The home run would eventually give the Dodgers the win.
This is a prime example of why Puig deserves to win the National League rookie of the year award.
There are other names—Jose Fernandez, Evan Gattis, even Puig’s teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu—but none of them offer their team as much impact.
Ryu, whom I hesitate to even call a rookie because of his experience in Japan, has been consistent and helped the Dodgers out as the team’s second or third best starting pitcher. He deserves a nod and so does Gattis of the Atlanta Braves. Gattis is the top rookie on the team with the best record in the majors and with the largest division lead.
The leader in rookie of the year speculation seems to be Fernandez. The Marlins rookie has made 24 starts for the team and has nine wins and four loses. He has a 2.41 earned run average and 157 strikeouts (the most from all rookie pitchers). Those are solid statistics. His major detriment is the team he plays for—the Miami Marlins are the worst team in the National League and that should keep Fernandez from winning rookie of the year.
The rookie of the year award should be judged and determined in the same context as the most valuable player award. The best player with the strongest influence on their respective team wins the MVP, and the rookie of the year should have that same kind of influence.
Fernandez has done a lot but not enough. When compared to the Marlins’ record, Fernandez’s wins, earned run average and strikeouts are void of meaning at the end of the regular season when Miami is looking forward to basketball while the Dodgers are chasing a pennant. The Marlins with Fernandez this season will go nowhere; the Dodgers with Puig could win the World Series.
Puig’s influence with the Dodgers since his debut on June 3 has been regurgitated over and over again in the form of his statistics. Puig has had unbelievable hot streaks and just as baffling slumps. In terms of fielding, he’s made top plays for his team and his opponents. And his base running could use a little work.
However, the one constant that Puig has shown is his ability to make a difference in any game he’s in, even if it’s only for a few innings. And that’s what matters.
Do you agree with this Campus Circle writer? Leave your comments below!