The Cuban influence continues as Yasiel Puig comes in as number 24 in the Rant Sports MLB Top 50 Players countdown.
Puig had one of the most interesting debuts into MLB in quite a while and, as such, garnered mounds of attention. Many believed the Los Angeles Dodgers to be crazy for signing Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract with little to no insight as to how he might perform at the Major League level. In June of this season, the Dodgers were greatly hurting with outfielders going down like flies. After just a few short months in the minors, the organization decided to give Puig a shot at The Show and the Cuban phenom never looked back.
In his first month in the majors, Puig won the June NL Player of the Month Award after hitting .436 in 26 games, blasting seven home runs and plating 16 runners. Topping his historic entry off with multiple outfield assists, Puig ran with the momentum and finished the season with an strong performance overall . The 6-3 outfielder ended the 2013 regular season with a .319 batting average, a .391 on-base percentage, a .534 slugging percentage, 19 home runs, 42 RBI and 11 stolen bases.
With that performance, Puig made himself a clear frontrunner for the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Award, although, he will most likely lose it to Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins. Critics laughed at the Dodgers’ offseason signing of Puig as it was such an unsure idea, but no one is laughing now. The Dodgers got exactly what they expected out of the one they call “The Wild Horse.”
Despite his bat-flipping antics, getting thrown out on the base paths and his controversial personality, Puig’s sizzling bat, cannon of an arm and overall contribution to the team outweighed any negative factors. The Dodgers need Puig to keep the ball rolling in 2014 in order to make a run back to the playoffs. If Puig can perform as well as he did in 2013, the team can keep its stars like Hanley Ramirez healthy and their pitchers continue to dominate, there is no reason the Dodgers cannot make it to the 2014 World Series.