Yasiel Puig has played in 16 major league games. He is just 22 and has all of 291 professional at-bats. His team, the moribund Los Angeles Dodgers, didn’t decide to call him up until June, and they still languish in last place in the very winnable National League West.
But should Puig be an all-star?
It is among the most intriguing questions less than a month before baseball’s All-Star Game at New York’s CitiField. Puig has electrified each ballpark in which he’s played, hitting .452 with a .799 slugging percentage and 1.267 on-base-plus-slugging in his first 65 plate appearances.
But is that enough to play in the all-star game? For comparison, look back a year.
On July 7, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was hitting .283 with eight homers, 15 doubles, eight steals and 43 runs scored in his first 244 at-bats after being called up in late April. Like Puig, Harper added energy to every at-bat, and at 19, he became a draw before he had made a full tour around the league.
That day, former St. Louis Manager Tony LaRussa named Harper to the National League all-star team, a replacement for injured Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton. He became the youngest position player ever named to an all-star game.
Puig, a Cuban defector who began the year in Class AA after signing a seven-year, $42 million contract in 2012, has just a fraction of the at-bats Harper did at that point. But he plays the game similarly – running the bases with abandon, crashing into walls and teammates, even getting in the middle of the Dodgers’ brawl with Arizona earlier this month.
The argument to send Puig is a simple one: The game is for entertainment, for the fans, and Puig is inarguably one of the game’s most intriguing players. Plus, doesn’t Puig – playing so well right now – provide the National League with the best chance to win, thus securing home-field advantage in the World Series?
San Francisco Manager Bruce Bochy, who will manage the NL, isn’t buying that argument.
“I would have a hard time picking somebody who has been here three weeks, to be honest,” Bochy said on Sirius/XM Radio last week. “The number would have to be so stupid that you say, ‘Okay, I’ll consider it.’ But I couldn’t take away from a player who has been here and done it the whole half and been out there grinding every day and he doesn’t go. I couldn’t look at that player. I couldn’t look at myself, to be honest.”
The teams will be announced July 7, by which time Puig will have had another 15 opportunities to put up stupid numbers. Otherwise, it appears Bochy is ready to make what could be a stupid decision — and leave him off the roster.