The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Ten Reasons Why Yasiel Puig Deserves To Be An All-Star

There’s been a lot of talk over the past week regarding whether or not the Dodgers phenom outfielder should be allowed to make the N.L. All-Star Team, given that he’s only been in the Majors for little more than one month.  Yesterday, Phillies relief pitcher Jonathon Papelbon, who has never pitched more than 75 innings over the course of an entire season, and who’s been named to five All Star squads, made the following statement:

“The guy’s got a month, I don’t even think he’s got a month in the big leagues,” Papelbon said during the interview. “Just comparing him to this and that, and saying he’s going to make the All-Star team, that’s a joke to me.

Papelbon added that it would, in his opinion, be disrespectful to veteran ballplayers who’ve been around for years to have Puig named to the All Star team.

Dear Jon, Allow me to retort:

1)  According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, no player since Joe DiMaggio back in the 1930’s has started his career with as much early success as has Puig.  We are not talking about a normal player on a short hot streak, we are witnessing baseball history every time Puig comes to the plate.

2)  Through last night’s game, Puig is now batting .440 through his first 109 MLB at bats.  Not enough at bats to impress you?  Well, even if Puig went hitless in his next 50 at bats (about half the number he already has), he’d still be batting over .300.  Does anyone believe he’ll go zero for his next 50?  If he bats just .250 over his next 200 at bats, he’ll still be batting around .317.  Would you say a .317 batting average, with power, is enough to justify an All Star nod?  I would.

3)  Puig already has the highest WAR of any Dodgers position player, at 2.6.  Shouldn’t the best position player on a team garner serious All Star consideration?

4)  Papelbon’s argument that a Puig All Star nomination would be disrespectful to MLB veterans is patently absurd.  There have been other rookies who have made All Star teams in the past.  Just because most of them began the season in April, garnering three full months (!) instead of Puig’s one month, is hardly enough of a difference to single Puig out as somehow being not worthy of this honor.

5)  The rule that has been in place for many years that requires each team, regardless of the caliber of its players, to have at least one representative for the All Star game has resulted in many questionable “All Stars” over the years.  The idea that seems to be floating out there that the All Star Game is and always has been for only the best of the best hasn’t been true for decades, if it ever was the case at all.  Meanwhile, Puig might very well be one of the top ten, if not the top five, players in the game right now.

6)  Attendance is down throughout the Majors.  Translation:  The product is not selling as well has it has in the past.  The players, meanwhile, are the product.  They are not the marketers, nor are they the gate-keepers of what the fans “should” be allowed to spend their hard-earned money on.  Next time Papelbon cashes a paycheck, he should keep that in mind.

7)  The All-Star Game is an exhibition.  It’s primary purpose is to promote The Game.  (The charade of home-field advantage being decided for the World Series is and always has been an afterthought.)  Question:  Are the fans less likely or more likely to watch this exhibition on T.V. if Puig gets to play?  How about fans in the greater L.A. area, the second biggest market in America?

8)  Baseball is also about winning, correct?  When the Puig joined the Dodgers in early June, they were at or near the bottom of the standings in the N.L. West.  Now, they are just 2 1/2 games out of first place, and have won ten of their last eleven games.   Certainly, this dramatic turnaround has not all been attributable to Puig.  Yet, if Puig was still languishing down in the minors, do you really think the Dodgers would now be this close to the top of the standings?  I don’t.

9)  No one remembers entire All-Star games, but they do remember individual, specific moments.  People remember Bo Jackson in ’89, or Dave Parker’s throw to the plate in ’79, or Ted Williams walk-off homer in ’41.  Isn’t it as likely as not that Puig will do something in this year’s All Star Game that fans will remember for years to come?  There’s no way to know, unless he gets to play.

10) Finally, if Papelbon’s point of view that Puig has not yet proven himself worthy of playing in an All-Star Game is widely shared by other veteran ballplayers (and one has to wonder what Puig’s Dodger teammates think of all this), then why not let the veterans show us in the All-Star Game itself how inferior Puig truly is?  Let Justin Verlander or Yu Darvish or Matt Moore or someone else face him down and attempt to strike him out.  After all, isn’t that the whole point of sports in general, and baseball in particular?  Let it be settled it between the chalk lines, not the airwaves, Jonathon.

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24 thoughts on “Ten Reasons Why Yasiel Puig Deserves To Be An All-Star

  1. Excellent post Bill. Obviously I am a Yankee fan, but living in NH most of my friends root for the Red Sox, and Papelbon’s act had worn thin with most of them by the time he left for Philadelphia. Puig has brought excitement to Chavez Ravine and probably helped keep Don Mattingly employed, at least for now. I thought it was a good move by A-Gon to throw his support behind his teammate in the final All-Star voting.

    Mike

    • I, too, thought A-Gon’s move was classy. Freeman may yet win the final slot, which I’m fine with, but there’s no doubt Puig is exciting lots of people.
      Thanks for the kind words,
      Bill

  2. I think this debate is overblown, and have hardly seen him play so don’t have much opinion. But I notice that Puig’s .455 OBP is almost entirely comprised of his .430 average, which implies that the OBP will be at or below .400 in a month or so, as his average drops to the .360-.380 range. And he has two homers in his last 13 games, nothing special. Remember last year, Josh Hamilton was on pace for 70+ homers in May and June.

    The bad thing for the Dodgers is how Puig and Ramirez make the rest of the offense look.

    • You may be right, Arne. I think the debate largely stems from how Papelbon expressed his opinion, not that he had one. He came across as a douche-bag, the same as his teammate Cole Hammel’s did last year when he admitted to plunking Bryce Harper (who then got revenge by stealing home.) For some reason, Phillies pitchers have designated themselves the Grand Wizards of HOW THIS GAME SHOULD BE PLAYED. But outside of their clubhouse, and among certain old jocks on ESPN, no one else really gives a damn what they think.
      Thanks, man
      Bill

  3. Never liked the “every team has to have a player” rule. Seems to me they ought to require the home team to have a player (and he has to at least appear in the game) then everyone else should be the most deserving. Of course, they ain’t listening to me.
    Let Puig play! Let Puig play! Let Puig play! Let… (been watching too much TV news about Egypt -Dump Morsi! Dump Morsi!) :-)
    v

  4. # 7. it may be a charade this home field advantage but it’s also a fact. prince fielder’s go ahead homer in the 2011 game is one of the main reason’s the cardinals enjoyed home field advantage beating those rangers. it is about winning the game and that in itself should put papel authority back under his kilt. great post as usual Bill.

    • Good point, Steve. And if it’s really about winning the game, then they should do away with the rule that each team needs to be represented, since that means some less-than-deserving guys will end up on the squad.
      Thanks, man.
      Bill

  5. Who cares about the All-Star game? The main thing is that the Dodgers have an amazing ball player. As for Papelbon’s bruised ego – or any bruised MLB egos, gimme a break. They’re making millions of bucks for playing ball. Their egos have time to recuperate while they out on their yachts.

  6. Well, all I can say is this. Regardless of what Puig says or what Paperback or whatever the guy’s name says or what anyone else says, here’s what all I’VE got to say about the all-star game: IF I (Glen) AIN’T STARTIN’, THEN I AIN’T DEPARTING.

    Glen Russell Slater

    • Hmmm, where have I heard that before? I’ll bet Papelbon, if he doesn’t make the team, won’t even bother to watch the game on T.V. If he and Puig were somehow to both make the N.L. squad, that could make for some awkward moments in the clubhouse.

  7. Excellent points Bill. I heard Papelbon’s interview the other day. His argument about veteran players doesn’t hold water. Maybe those veteran players aren’t that good. What Puig is doing is phenomenal. Baseball is about history and as you note, compare what he’s doing to history. He deserves to be there. I don’t think Matt Kemp is complaining right now either.

    Vince

  8. Your point number 7 is the one closest to my reason why he belongs…yes, the All-Star game is an exhibition, but who is that exhibition for? THE FANS! If the fans want to see him in the All-Star game, put him in the damn game. Case closed.

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