The moment that Yasiel Puig was promoted to the big leagues last season, there was considerable hype surrounding him. That hype was backed up in a big way, to the tune of a .319 batting average, 19 home runs, 42 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and a .391 on-base percentage in just 104 games played. However, there may be cause for concern that Puig could come crashing down to reality in 2014.
To start with, Puig reportedly came into camp significantly out of shape and overweight compared to the season before. In fact, he now weighs 245 pounds, a 26-pound increase from the season before. The last slugger to put that kind of weight on and fail to see it disappear before the start of a season was former outfielder Andruw Jones in 2008. The result that year for Jones was a .158 batting average, three home runs, 14 RBIs and a microscopic .256 on-base percentage in 75 games played.
While it would be highly unlikely to see Puig’s numbers decline that sharply, especially after such a promising rookie year, he has not looked much better than Jones did in 2008 early on this spring. In 29 at-bats so far, he has a pedestrian .172 batting average, zero home runs, three RBIs and just a .188 on-base percentage.
While many players can struggle in the early stages of Spring Training for a variety of reasons, Puig’s dramatic dip is most definitely an alarming development. On top of that, watching him, it looks as though his plate discipline is not up to par, as he is chasing outside pitches frequently this spring. Those bad pitches could continue during the season if pitchers catch wind of this early on.
The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ organization has even noted Puig’s weight gain recently saying the following, “We don’t feel it’s going to be a problem, but we’re paying attention to it — put it that way.”
While it is still early to call Puig a lost cause for 2014, or to say that he is t0 2014 what Jones was to 2008, he will bare watching for the rest of the spring and early on in the regular season.