Although the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cuban superstar was snubbed from the 2013 MLB All Star Game, Yasiel Puig still has a chance to finish the season with at least one accolade: 2013 NL Rookie of the Year.
If you would have asked me this question a week ago, I would have responded with an emphatic yes. Today, I am not as confident.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not think Puig has done anything to hurt his case, but there have been some recent developments among other ROY candidates that make me less certain. Alas, I will tell you that I do believe Yasiel Puig should be the NL Rookie of the Year.
Of all the leading candidates, rookie pitchers have really been making a big splash in the majors this season. Jose Fernandez, the Miami Marlins’ 21-year-old right hander, has exploded in his first year and is a clear front-runner for NL ROY. Fernandez’s 2.54 ERA places him sixth in the majors and his 1.01 WHIP is seventh.
With an 8-5 record, Fernandez does not seem all that impressive, but keep in mind he plays for the Marlins, who have a pathetic record that is 26 games below .500. His recent outings have been extremely impressive as Fernandez has recorded 13 and 14 strikeouts in the last two games.
Fernandez has clearly been remarkable and is easily the best rookie pitcher in the NL, but whether he is better or worse than Puig is still to be determined.
Puig has certainly made a strong case for himself this year; I would not have endorsed him as an NL All-Star if he had not deserved it. Since the All Star break, Puig has slowed down a little bit in terms of production, but even still, his sky-high stats remain competitive enough for him to be easily considered for this award.
In his rookie season, Ichiro Suzuki won the AL ROY with an amazing batting average of .350. Keeping in mind that Suzuki had already played multiple seasons in the top professional Japanese league, Puig’s .372 average is incredible. Even more so, Puig’s on-base percentage is currently sitting at .433. This places Puig second all-time for NL rookies who played at least 100 games in their rookie season (Puig is on pace for just over 100).
Puig does make unintelligent plays from time to time, but his electrifying grabs and ability gunning runners down do so much more good for the Dodgers’ energy than his mistakes do to bring them down. Puig has been known to be too aggressive while running the bases, but the number of times that he has gotten an extra base is worth the occasional miscue.
Further, although Puig has been careless at times in his at-bats, Jon Weisman’s tweet from this morning shows he is learning and growing as a hitter:
From last night: Yasiel Puig, Plate Disciplinarian He has 12 walks in past 13 games, 2nd in NL in BB in Aug #dodgers
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) August 8, 2013
Looking back at how the season progressed for Los Angeles, it is clear to see that Puig made a huge impact on the Dodgers’ run. When Puig made his debut on June 3, the Dodgers were sitting at 24-32 and 7.5 games behind the division leader. Puig’s spark has led the Dodgers on their historic run. Because of this, Yasiel Puig should beat out Jose Fernandez for the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year.