On paper, the Los Angeles Dodgers should be one of the best teams in the National League. The reality, however, is much different as Don Mattingly‘s squad has limped to a 27-36 start and sits dead last in the NL West going into this evening’s action.
The arrival of Cuban import Yasiel Puig, however, has provided the Dodgers with a much needed distraction and a burst of energy on a team that was growing more lifeless by the day.
Puig has started off at a .500 clip over his first eight games in the majors, driving four home runs and 10 runs in the process. He’s one of the hottest names in baseball and the merchandise klout he’s providing to the Dodgers is immeasurable.
According to reports, over the past weekend more merchandise with Puig’s name was sold than in any similar stretch for other Dodgers greats like Hideo Nomo, Fernando Valenzuela or even Manny Ramirez. “Puig Mania”, in other words, has taken hold and is keeping the fans interested in a team that could be in for a long summer.
Puig, as a Cuban defector, was an unknown quantity prior to the past few weeks when his torrid start caught the eyes of more seasoned and casual baseball fans alike. He has flown off the fantasy baseball waiver wires in the process and caught the attention of baseball fans around the country with his natural mix of power, personality and effortless grace on the diamond.
In short, he has that “it” factor which can’t be taught and is quite rare among 22-year olds, much less guys playing their first season in the majors.
Who knows if the Los Angeles Dodgers will turn things around and actually be competitive this season. It’s a shot in the dark to assume either way.
What is evident is that Yasiel Puig is a star in the making.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t burn too bright, and fade too fast in a dark time for one of the game’s legendary franchises.
H/T to Fox Sports West.