Los Angeles Dodgers: The rehabilitation of Yasiel Puig

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Yasiel Puig
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Yasiel Puig /

After yet another comeback victory during a historic season, fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers got a reminder that Yasiel Puig is still the Wild Horse.

It was one year ago that the Los Angeles Dodgers sent Yasiel Puig down to the minor leagues. Puig did not go down because of injury and it could be debated he went down because he was ineffective. No, the Dodgers were so exasperated by Puig’s attitude they decided he had to go the Oklahoma City Dodgers to re-adjust his approach to baseball.

Even after Puig was brought up there were constant trade rumors that had Puig being shipped off. A player with a team friendly contract and a cannon of an arm were so toxic to the front office they were to trade him.

A mere year later Puig is now a fixture on a historic Dodgers team, still beloved by fans but now playing to his full potential. Puig has maintained his strength which is defense but despite hitting mostly out of the eighth spot in the lineup, Puig is an offensive force as well.

Puig has also managed to keep his name out of the gossip pages of the sports section. It seems that at 26 years old Puig’s maturity has gone up off the field as well as on the field. You no longer hear about him being late to games or getting cited for reckless driving.

Despite one-third of the season left to play, Puig has already set a career high in home runs with 21, he’s on pace to break his career high of 67 runs batted in and he’s walked 50 times which was his total for the last two season combined.

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Despite hitting just .253 overall for the season during the second half he’s hovered closer to .260, but also gotten on base more at a clip of .382 on base percentage after the all-star game. Puig’s patience at the plate has been the hallmark of his offensive turn around. In August alone he’s walked 14 times this after only walking 4 times in all of July.

Puig’s patience at the plate was no more evident than his walk-off double in last night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. With the tying run on third and winning run on first, Puig batted the pitcher in an eight pitch at bat.

Whereas the Puig of the past may have gone into the situation hacking away seeking to hit a home run, in that final at-bat Puig refused to wave at pitches outside of the zone which was his past trademark. When Puig finally did get a pitch in the zone he smartly took the pitch into the gap driving in the winning runs for a great walk-off moment.

Lest anyone forget Puig has also proven that he is baseball’s best right fielder. In August alone Puig has robbed a hitter of a home run at the fence, and thrown out a player trying score from second base.

With his offense up and dazzling displays of defense Puig should be a candidate for baseballs Comeback Player of the Year and a Gold Glove award. For Dodgers fans who always rooted for him they are being rewarded now for the hard work he put in to turn it all around.