The Tenth Inning Week 15 Yasiel Puig

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The Tenth Inning Week 15 – Yasiel Puig ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>


By Mike Ivcic

He is already a good player. He, at times, has been a very good player. He has the ability, by the end of his career a long time from now, to be a great player. But folks, please understand this – Yasiel Puig is not an All-Star.


First, let me acknowledge the case for Puig. He’s currently batting .409 with 8 homeruns and 19 RBI’s since making his major league debut. He has energized a Dodgers team that looked lifeless and bound for the most disappointing season of baseball in my lifetime, bringing LA all the back into now second place in the NL West. His 1.114 OPS makes a stat geek drool – the same exact thing his oodles of talent does to the advance scout groups for the other 29 teams. He has definitely played at an All-Star caliber level for the 32 games in which he has participated this season.

And there, my friends, is the argument against Puig, in a nutshell. 32 games. Or, to put it another way, just under 37% of LA’s games this season. I’m sorry, but a third of a season does not an All-Star make, no matter how good the player. While his stats are astronomical, Puig simply hasn’t had one of the best 20 seasons of a National League position player up to this point – because he did nothing for the first two-thirds of the season currently being usaed as the measuring stick for judgement.

Listen, Puig is a tremendous talent – I said as much in the first two paragraphs. But he’s not deserving of such a high honor as being named to the All-Star team based upon a month’s worth of performance. There are always some amazing numbers from certain players in April, as guys come out of the gate posting 2-for-3 and 3-for-4 nights are find themselves batting over .400 after the first month. But no one since Ted Williams has managed to do it for a full season, because the stats are self-correcting. Baseball is a game built on failure, and as pitchers begin to uncover some of Puig’s weaknesses, he will ultimately see his numbers fall – just like what has happened to every other player that started out smoking hot in April. If baseball suddenly changed the rules and picked the All-Star teams on May 1, there would be plenty of people arguing that not enough of the season had been played to truly judge the best players for that particular year – and yet that’s exactly what so many people are trying to do in reverse for Puig right now.

By the time September finishes and every team has played their requisite 162 games, it is quite possible that Puig may still wind up with one of the best stat lines of any MLB player this season. For that, he will likely be awarded a Rookie of the Year plaque and maybe even a Silver Slugger award. And he will deserve them. But after just 32 games – albeit steller games, but still just 32 of them – it’s simply unfair to award Puig an All-Star spot. He was not voted in as a starter (he of course couldn’t be because he was in the minors when the ballots came out, a fact that should be cause enough to end this argument right here) and he should not be voted in as a reserve in the final fan vote. He should simply be respected and admired for what he’s done so far – started his career with one of the best months of baseball we’ve seen in a long time.

But a month does not an All-Star make.

Playoff “Dead” List
July 8 – Chicago White Sox – Finally we have an entrant for a fourth division onto our dead list, this time from the AL Central. Despite the lack of emergence of a dominant team (Detroit should be, but keeps letting Cleveland hang around), the Central does finally join the party with the addition of the White Sox. Bound for a playoff spot until the final week of the season last year, Chicago hasn’t been able to rally the same level of play this season, entering the week barely hanging onto a .400 winning percentage and sitting 13 games out of first place. America’s third largest city won’t be seeing any playoff baseball this October.
July 1 – Milwaukee Brewers
June 24 – Seattle Mariners
June 17 – Chicago Cubs
June 10 – New York Mets
June 3 – Houston Astros
May 27 – Miami Marlins

Three series to watch this week…
1) TEX @ BAL (7/8-7/11) – Neither of these teams want to wind up in a one-game Wild Card playoff like they did last year, but that’s where they both currently sit. Winning their respective divisions will require beating both bad and good teams – starting with the four games right here.
2) LAD @ ARZ (7/8-7/10) – As unlikely as it would be, a sweep by LA here would put them just 1.5 games back of Arizona heading into the final weekend before the All-Star break. No one saw this happening in early May.
3) OAK @ PIT (7/8-7/10) – I still don’t like interleague between non-geographical divisions, but sometimes matchups like this prove to be good viewing. It’s still unfair for the schedule, though, considering the Cardinals get to play KC while the Pirates deal with a very good A’s team.

Three series to watch this weekend…
1) TEX @ DET (7/12-7/14) – Tough close to the first half for Texas, who will get Scherzer on Saturday and Verlander on Sunday. Oakland has Boston, though, so the battles will be fairly even in the AL West.
2) CIN @ ATL (7/11-7/14) – Suddenly the Braves lead in the NL East is down to 4, and the Reds now sit 3.5 behind both Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Both teams will need these four crucial games to establish momentum heading into the second half.
3) COL @ LAD (7/11-7/14) – Both of these teams could win the NL West. The same could also be said for Arizona and San Francisco. What will ultimately determine the champion? I always lean towards head-to-head performance – so these four games will probably play a role down the line.

If the playoffs started today…
American League
1) Boston Red Sox
2) Oakland Athletics
3) Detroit Tigers
4) Texas Rangers
*5) Tampa Bay Rays
*5) Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore and Tampa would play a one-game playoff prior to the one-game Wild Card playoff in Tampa (Rays 7-5 vs. Orioles this season). The winner would go to Texas, the loser would miss the playoffs.

National League
*1/4) Pittsburgh Pirates
*1/4) St. Louis Cardinals
2) Atlanta Braves
3) Arizona Diamondbacks
5) Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh and St. Louis would play a one-game playoff prior to the one-game Wild Card playoff in Pittsburgh (Pirates 3-2 vs. Cardinals this season). Winner would be top seed, loser would host one-game Wild Card playoff against Cincinnati.

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