Los Angeles Dodgers: Yasiel Puig is still fighting stereotypes

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31: Yasiel Puig (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31: Yasiel Puig (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Yasiel Puig has become a fan favorite on the Los Angeles Dodgers and has settled down as a consistent producer. Despite that, Puig still battles with the stereotypes that have plagued his entire career.

After a remarkable season where Yasiel Puig went from the trading block to an integral part of the World Series-bound Los Angeles Dodgers, you would think Puig was past hearing from the critics.  In 2017, Puig hit a career-high 28 home runs while driving in 72 runs, he had his highest walk ratio at 11.2% and his strikeout rate was his lowest of his career at 17.5%.

Despite all this Puig was in the news this week and again his play was the subject. It started with the announcement of the of the Gold Glove award winners. Puig was up for the award for right fielders against Jason Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton.

Heyward was the recipient of the award the last three years prior to 2017, but it was thought (or perhaps hoped) that Puig had the best chance to unseat Heyward. When Heyward was announced as the winner, Dodgers social media and some players themselves expressed disappointment with the decision.

Perhaps justifiably deserved the award over Heyward, after all, Puig played 145 games in right field while Heyward played only 120. Puig plays half his games at Dodger Stadium, which is more expansive than the bandbox that is Wrigley Field.

After the announcement was made Tim Flannery a former player and hitting coach with the Padres and Giants used his platform on Twitter to bring up old complaints about Puig.

If you listened to broadcaster Ron Darling during the Dodgers playoff games you would have heard criticism much like Flannery’s. At one point Darling and his colleagues wondered if Puig would send an errant throw halfway to Pasadena despite the fact that Puig only committed one error all season.

It’s obvious from these comments the expectation is that Puig’s play is supposed to be a detriment to his team when evidence shows that Puig in right field is just as important to any other position when the Dodgers take the field.

More from LA Sports Hub

By the end of the week, Major League Baseball (MLB) recognized what was evident all year long, the best right fielder in the National League (NL) was Yasiel Puig. MLB rewarded Puig’s play by naming him the Wilson Glove Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) for right fielders in the NL.

MLB recognized that Puig’s .996 fielding percentage and Defensive Runs Saved, a stat that attempts to measure the overall effectiveness of a fielder, Puig tied for the lead among NL right fielders during the regular season with 18 DRS.

Puig also had runners take an extra base only 38% of the time which was best among all fielders meaning runners had to respect the arm strength that Puig possess. MLB see’s the greatness of Puig why doesn’t everyone else.

Next: Best fits for Brandon Morrow

I won’t speculate why the Flannery’s and Darlings of the world still hold on to outdated notions of how to evaluate Puig, but if 2017 teaches anything is that Yasiel Puig is a force on the baseball diamond and he will continue to be as long as he is wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform.