The Los Angeles Dodgers were lucky this year to not just have the rookie sensation Yasiel Puig whom they signed as a Cuban defect in June of 2012 light up Dodger stadium, but all year they were given solid start after solid start by Hyun-Jin Ryu. Puig had a great Spring Training and followed that up by having an amazing part of the year in the Dodgers’ AA affiliation the Chattanooga Lookouts before being called up to the majors, but Ryu had a different path to the majors. Ryu played baseball for the Korea Baseball Organization before being signed by the Dodgers in December of 2012. Ryu had a nice career in the KBO, but not all foreign players come into MLB and continue their success. I watched Ryu’s first televised start against the San Franciso Giants, and I wasn’t even sure what to expect; the only thing I knew for sure was this guy definitely ate well, and even Bob Costas announcing the game that evening referred to Ryu as a “chunky fella”.
Now let’s fast forward to September 25, 2013. Ryu just picked up his 14th win last night against the Giants and Puig hit his 19th home run and picked up his 42nd RBI in the same game. That gives Ryun 14 wins, seven losses, 150 strikeouts and an ERA just under 3.00 at 2.97. Puig, on the other hand, now has 19 home runs, 42 RBI and is batting a very pleasant .326, but let’s dig even deeper than just numbers when it comes to Puig. Puig is out in the field making high risk catch after high risk catch. He has some of the most aggressive base running tactics I have ever seen, and yes that leads to him being thrown out more than he should, but it is the hustle and fielding ability all rolled in with the amazing stats he has put up that leads me to say Puig should indeed be National League Rookie of the Year.
Ryu pitched great all year, but even when he was pitching at his best, the Dodgers were a bottom feeder in the National League West division. But that all changed right around the time Puig made his MLB debut. Puig’s competitiveness lit a fire under just about every ball player that was in the Dodgers dugout, and it showed on the field as the Dodgers went on an amazing run and went from worst to first in no time. That is another reason Puig should be front-runner for the NL Rookie of the Year award, but you have to think that some voters will vote for Ryu because he deserves votes too. And sadly with those split votes, neither Ryu or Puig may walk away with the hardware.