Every so often in sports, a player comes a long and almost instantly is thrust into stardom. Typically, they have a natural blend of talent and charisma and although they are new to their professional league, they take their sport by storm and become overnight sensations. Last season, it was Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig who became one of the most polarizing figures in MLB on the third of June and he has not looked back since.
Puig, a Cuban defector, brought life to a struggling Dodgers club that was playing mediocre ball for manager Don Mattingly, and helped the team win an astonishing 42 of 50 games after June 22 which took them from last place to a NL West division title and a ticket to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs. They would go on to lose the series 4-2, but what they had done was quite an accomplishment and it could not have happened without Puig’s emergence. Those who were smart enough to claim him on the waiver wire were heavily rewarded as in 104 games he batted .319 with 19 home runs, drove in 42 runs and stole 11 bases while getting on base at a .391 pace.
While I understand a possible “sophomore slump” is one of the main concerns fantasy baseball players have in Puig, fading the slugger in your draft will be a huge mistake. He projects to hit 26 home runs, bat .308 and drive in 70 runs. The only concern I see comes from recent rumors that the Dodgers could bat Puig in the lead-off spot which would almost certainly reduce his RBI totals; but the move could also render him more aggressive on the base-paths leading to more stolen bases and essentially end up a wash from the fantasy baseball perspective.
Puig currently projects as a late-third-round or early-fourth-round pick in most leagues, but taking a chance with him in the late-second or early-third will not end up a decision you live to regret.