For the past week Yasiel Puig has been rewriting the record books in right field. The 22 year old Cuban sensation has given the Dodgers a sorely needed boost of energy. The Dodgers a once flat and listless team have now won four of their last five games, and all thanks to Puig’s heroics, and some timely pitching. PuigMania has swept across Los Angeles like a wild fire, and we all have been caught up in this massive blaze.
Can the young rookie phenom save a Dodger season that had been quickly circling the toilet bowl? If the past week is any indication of that, then yes. We saw Puig in spring training this season as he hit over .500 and destroyed cactus league pitching. We wondered why he wasn’t put on the roster on opening day, and instead he was shipped down to the double AA Chattanooga Lookouts. After two wasted months down there, which saw Puig hit .313 with eight home runs and 37 RBI, the Dodgers finally called Puig up to replace the injured Matt Kemp, who had strained his hamstring yet again.
During the past week, Puig’s performances have been nothing short of incredible. The uniquely talented outfielder has knocked Los Angeles on its ears. The kid is batting over .400 this week, and has already hit four home runs, and knocked in ten runs.
Let’s go over his heroics once again.
Monday- Puig goes 2 for 4 with a single, double, and a game ending assist on a double play. The right fielder made a cannon throw to double up Chris Denorfia, and defeat the San Diego Padres 2-1.
Tuesday- Puig goes 3 for 4 with two home runs, and five runs driven in. Puig hit a three-run home run that tied the game, and then in the next frame, hit another home run, this one a two-run shot, as the Dodgers defeated San Diego again 9-7.
Wednesday- The only game Puig went hitless, and not surprisingly the Dodgers lost. Puig goes 0 for 4 in this game. He made two very strong throws, one was a little errant on a throw to third. On another play, Puig overran a base hit, and was seen shaken up n the dugout after a strikeout. The Dodgers lost 6-2.
Thursday- Puig and the Dodgers are grand on this night, as Puig goes 1 for 3 with a grand slam home run which put the game away. The Dodgers beat Atlanta 5-0. The Dodgers were leading 1-0 until the bottom of the eighth, when after two singles and a walk, Puig came to bat with the bases loaded and slammed his first career grand slam home run. The crowd at Dodger Stadium went berserk, and Vin Scully was equally amazed, stating even he couldn’t believe it, and calling out “Viva Puig!”.
Friday- Last night the Dodgers won again, beating Atlanta 2-1 in ten innings. Puig goes 1 for 3 in the win with another home run, and a walk. With the Dodgers down 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Puig’s fourth home run of the season a muscle shot to the opposite field off of Paul Maholm tied the game. This setup the Dodgers to win it in the bottom of the tenth off of a walk-off wild pitch.
All total Puig is batting .421 (8 for 19), with four home runs, ten RBIs, four runs scored, one double, one walk, one intentional walk, three whiffs, one game ending assist, all in 19 at-Bats, and five games. Only two other players in major league history, not just Dodger history have ever hit four home runs in their first five games. Three of his five games have been multi-hit games. Quite extraordinary to say the least.
Puig harkens us back to the days of past Dodger rookie seasons that have impressed us. From Bob Welch’s 1978 rookie campaign, or Steve Howe’s impressive rookie season of 1980, Fernando Valenzuela’s sacred 1981 season or Hideo Nomo’s mania of 1995. Of course you have to compare Puig to hitters and not pitchers, which means Mike Piazza’s amazing rookie season of 1993 pops into my head, or Raul Mondesi’s 1994 season, or Steve Sax’s 1982 campaign. Of course you could also think of Matt Kemp’s own 2006 season, in which he was a young mutli-talented unpolished 21 year old kid, with all of the potential in the world. Sound familiar?
So when Kemp comes back off of the disabled list next week, Puig should be moved into left field, as Kemp takes back his center field position, and Andre Ethier moves back to right field. I don’t care where Puig plays to be honest as long as he plays. Puig should never ever play another minor league game ever again. Even more insane, is Puig is doing this all from the lead-off spot. Don Mattingly has batted Puig lead-off in every game since he was called up last Monday.
Can Puig save the Dodger season? There is a ton of pressure already on the rookie’s shoulders. His accomplishments have amazed and excited not only Dodger fans, but all of Los Angeles, and major league baseball. It’s only been a week. Can you imagine this over a full season?
The kid is going to make some mistakes. He’s going to hit some game winners. He’s a rookie. He’s young and unpolished. But he’s going to learn, and grow, and from each game he learns a little bit more. The kid has injected us with something we haven’t had in a long time. Hope.
So come on out to Dodger Stadium and watch the Cuban sensation known as Yasiel Puig. A rare talent indeed. Watch Puig as he turns the Dodgers season around and watch him as he hits and runs and throws and lifts up Los Angeles.