The multitude of haters who trashed the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie star, Yasiel Puig, for every little hiccup and mental error during the regular season got a taste of irony in last night’s 2013 NLDS opening game. Although Clayton Kershaw’s brilliant pitching performance is the main reason the Dodgers cruised to a 6-1 win over the Atlanta Braves, Puig silenced the critics who ripped him apart all season long. This tweet from Jon Morosi, a Fox Sports writer, was just one of many criticisms on the young super star’s aggressive play:
Yasiel Puig’s baserunning will cost the Dodgers a playoff game if they don’t address it now. @FOXSports1Advertisement
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 18, 2013
Others have disapproved of Puig’s baserunning as well as his uncompromising defensive strategy. “Hit the cut-off man” is a statement of frustration often shouted at Puig by fans and analysts alike as the young Cuban likes to test his cannon of an arm on base runners trying to advance.
Despite all of the frustration, Puig aided the Dodgers on multiple occasions in Thursday night’s win with both his legs and his arm. In the second inning, Puig went from first to third on a single that the majority of MLB players would not have dared to try. Skip Schumaker’s shallow fly ball then allowed Puig to break for home after tagging up and his speed again killed the Braves as that run opened up the scoring for the Dodgers.
Puig’s arm also limited the Braves’ offensive output as the outfielder turned a double play after Evan Gattis strayed too far on a caught fly ball. Similarly, Puig seemed to be daring Braves runners to take an extra base when the ball came to him, but none of them cared to test his reputable cannon.
In Morosi’s defense, he did post a good article this morning saying of Puig, “Either he’s a wiser rookie than when he arrived in June, or some of us were wrong about him all along.” Either way, the Dodgers have a 1-0 lead over the Braves in the NLDS and owe it, in part, to Puig’s recklessness.