After poking two Jered Weaver pitches over the fence on Thursday, Yasiel Puig’s three homers lifted him atop MLB’s leaderboard. That’s three dingers in two games for a guy who hit 11 all last season. The 26-year-old outfielder is hitting over .400 four games into the season.
For anybody who has followed Puig’s career, his appeal has waned over the past two seasons as productivity ceased and reliability was questioned.
2013 - Puig's debut
Puig, then 22 years old, was called up by the Dodgers in June 2013. Although he was punishing Double-A pitching, Puig didn’t have one Triple-A at bat before his call-up. Despite the baseball reps he earned in Cuba, the lack of minor league experience in the states didn’t appear to matter.
The athletic Puig showcased his five tools during his first month in the bigs. He smacked seven homers, scored 19 runs, drove in 16 with four stolen bases as he boasted a triple slash of .436 / .467 / .713 with a 1.180 OPS. Puig’s domination was celebrated to the point where people were calling for him to be added to the National League All-Star roster after 101 at bats.
Puig finished the 2013 season with 19 homers, 66 runs, 42 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .319 / .391 / .534 triple slash in 104 games.
His vibrant personality was marketable to the Los Angeles Dodgers demo and his offseason memorabilia sales were red hot. Every collector wanted Puig’s autographed rookie cards. At the time, I wrote a piece for FOX Sports that has since disappeared from the site, but lives on thanks to this hobby message board. The rarest Puig autographed rookie card was sold privately north of five figures in January 2014.
“I’ve been in journalism for practically 30 years and I’ve done a lot of stories that I’ve cared deeply about and some I thought were pretty special, but I’ve never had a story like this Yasiel Puig piece that has just taken off in every possible direction.” - Katz
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY SportRobert Hanashiro
2014 - Puig good, but not great
Puig’s 2014 wasn’t bad for mere mortals. However, after his mind boggling 2013 and confidence that bordered on cockiness, he was held to nearly impossible expectations. He hit 16 homers – three fewer than the season before - but played in 44 more games. The .296 / .382 / .480 was down, but still left pundits to project a brighter and more productive 2015.
2015 - Puig's durability questioned
It’s hard to take the next step when you can’t walk. Hamstring injuries have plagued Puig over the past two season, but he failed to take the field in more than half of the Dodgers games in 2015. He hit .263 with 11 homers, 45 runs and 45 RBI in 79 games.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
2016 - what happened to 2013's Puig?
Puig’s regression continued as injuries, lack of plate discipline and a minor league demotion only awarded him 104 games played in 2016.
After back-to-back subpar fantasy performances, it’s no surprise Puig fell outside the top 50 outfielders based on average draft position. To look at it another way, outfielders ranked 37-48 are considered a fourth outfielder on fantasy rosters. Puig’s NFBC ranking settled in at No. 52.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
Fantasy baseball future value
Based on Puig's age - he's only 26 - and raw athletic ability, I think it's fair to say his current 16.4 ownership percentage in FOX Sports fantasy baseball leagues is well below what it should be - even without this most recent production. So, hit the waiver wire, add Puig to your roster and take a chance on the "Wild Horse."