Dodgers 2013 End-Of-Season Player Evaluations: Yasiel Puig
Yasiel Puig was signed out of Cuba in June 2012 to a seven-year, $42 million deal as a 21-year-old. He spent some time in the minors in 2012 before having a breakout performance in Spring Training, but failed to make the team.
Regular Season Grade: A-
Puig began the season in Double-A before being called up and making his major league debut on June 3. Puig wasted no time in making his presence known, as he had two hits and a game-ending outfield assist to secure a win. On the season, Puig hit .319 with 19 home runs and 42 RBI in 104 games. The 22-year-old was often given credit for rejuvenating a Dodger team that struggled to begin the season and found themselves in last place in the NL West. The outfielder had his share of growing pains on the base paths and in the field, but was a solid contributor all season long.
In his first month in the majors, Puig was busy setting records for rookies. He tied the record for most RBI (10) in his first five games, became the second player to have four home runs in his first five games, tied for second-most hits (27) in his first 15 games and set the Dodgers franchise record for hits in a month by a rookie (44). He was named NL Rookie of the Week in his first week in the big leagues and in his first mont, was named NL Player and Rookie of the Month for June. Puig even earned himself All-Star buzz and was the runner-up in the Final Vote. He would finish second in the Rookie of the Year vote to fellow Cuban Jose Fernandez.
Puig provided many exciting moments and settled into the starting right field role for the Dodgers. His first career walk-off home run ended with him sliding feet-first into home plate. He was an above-average defender and had eight outfield assists in over 800 innings. Puig also scored 66 runs and stole 11 bases on the season, providing that spark in the Dodgers lineup. Overall, his positive impact was far greater than the handful of mistakes he made as a young player.
Playoff Grade: B
Puig had a very strong postseason, hitting .333 with six runs scored and four RBI. In the NLDS, Puig shined brightest when he hit .471 and scored five runs in four games. He also played great defense and was a part of a couple double plays and helped the Dodgers defeat the Atlanta Braves in four games.
Against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, Puig struggled at the plate with 10 strikeouts in six games while hitting just .227 in the series. Puig started the series 0-10 at Busch Stadium before getting five hits in the three home games. He also struggled on defense in the series, beginning with his misplay on a ball in the ninth inning of Game 5. In Game 6, Puig continued his defensive woes and was criticized for his throws that sailed over cut-off men.
Overall Grade: A-
Puig came in and became the player the Dodgers envisioned when they signed him last June. He was a catalyst in the lineup and infected the clubhouse with his energy. He may have had his fair share of rookie mistakes, but found himself in the lineup every day because he more than made up for it with his play.
The 22-year-old will return next season as a starting outfielder and should continue to play at a high level, hopefully without the gaffes that plagued him in 2013.
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