During an interview with MLB Network Radio, Papelbon was asked about Puig making the team and said, “To me, it’s an absolute joke. It’s really kind of stupid if you ask me.”
A joke? Stupid? Really, Jonathan?
Puig has burst onto the scene in L.A. and finished June with an astounding 44 hits. That total was the second most hits in a player’s first month of action, only trailing New York Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio‘s 48 in May of 1936. Oh, and Puig didn’t get called up until June 3.
Puig has displayed pure brilliance on the field and has revitalized an underachieving Dodger team. They are 9-1 in their last 10 games and are now within 2.5 games of first place in the National League West.
His statistics are absolutely incredible. In 27 games, the Cuban native is hitting .443 with eight home runs and 17 RBIs. His OPS is a Ruthian 1.218, which would lead MLB if he had enough at-bats.
And that’s the issue Papelbon really has: not enough of a sample size. Later in the same interview, he went on to say, “The guy’s got a month, I don’t even think he’s got a month in the big leagues. Just comparing him to this and that, and saying he’s going to make the All-Star team, that’s a joke to me.”
Papelbon’s criticism is a little ironic since he made the MLB All-Star game his rookie season in 2006 having only thrown a total of 48 innings. Yes, he was having an outstanding season and totally deserving of being an All-Star, but 48 innings isn’t all that significant either.
Quite simply, the All-Star game is an exhibition game for the fans, and Puig’s inclusion could potentially be the biggest story line of all. It’s a showcase of talent and the fans want to see the best stars in the game play. And even though he’s only played 27 games, there is no doubt that Puig is among them. He’s shown speed, power and a rocket arm from right field, drawing comparisons to Roberto Clemente and Bo Jackson.
Also, if the All-Star game “counts” like Bud Selig wants it to, shouldn’t the National League want Puig on their team? He’s unquestionably one of the best outfielders in the NL and gives them the best chance to win home field advantage in the World Series.
It’s unlikely Puig will be able to make up enough ground in the fans vote to start the All-Star game, but he could be named by the manager Bruce Bochy. Historically, managers try to reward veteran players, figuring the rookies will get another shot, so Bochy will likely do the same. However, injuries often force players to sit out and rest for a few days, opening the door for replacement players to make the team.
That’s how Bryce Harper was added to the NL roster last year. Perhaps that is the best route for Puig this year as well.
Either way, Papelbon is dead wrong about this. Puig deserves to be playing in a game that highlights the best players in baseball. He’s a breath of fresh air for a game that has become stagnant and somewhat boring. He’s a five-tool player that deserves to be put on a national stage and the All-Star game will do just that.
B.L. is a sports writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip.