Throughout the early part of the Major League Baseball season, Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis has been very impressive. At one point, it appeared he might run away with the National League Rookie of the Year Award, despite competition from New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who has been one of baseball’s best hurlers.
Enter Yasiel Puig, the 22-year-old rookie right fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers who debuted last week and clobbered four home runs in his first five games, including his first career grand slam off Braves reliever Cory Gearrin in one of the Dodgers’ two wins over Atlanta in a four-game weekend series in Los Angeles.
Watching Puig, I felt my first hint of doubt about Gattis’ chances to be the league’s top rookie, mainly because Puig will continue to be an everyday player for the Dodgers while Gattis will keep coming off the bench and making spot starts for the Braves, albeit in four possible roles — catcher, left fielder, first baseman and/or designated hitter.
I still think the Braves’ talented 26-year-old can do it, but I certainly feel that his odds have dwindled significantly. So many things are working against him.
Not that things working against him have ever stopped Gattis before.
“He spent three years living in a van,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told the media on May 21. “I don’t think a baseball game is going to faze him.”
Let’s hope that continues to be the case. It just might be enough to get him over the hump.