SAN FRANCISCO — What some deemed as controversial and some deemed worthy, the Dodgers’ rookie phenom Yasiel Puig was named a candidate for the Final Vote in this year’s MLB All-Star game.
The league announced Saturday before the Dodgers squared off against the Giants that Puig will go up against four other National League players – including his own teammate first baseman Adrian Gonzalez – in a fan vote. The outfielder that seems to be the major leagues’ new darling could potentially get a chance to play in the mid-summer classic after only six weeks of major league service time.
But in just 31 games, his results have been impressive.
Puig has re-energized a team that many left for dead just a month ago. The Cuban defector’s high flying style in the outfield and his .407 batting average has made fans far beyond the greater Los Angeles area fall in love with him. Puig became the first player to ever be named National League Player and Rookie of the Month and his home runs, hits, average and slugging percentage rank among the league’s best.
The right fielder is just the third player to ever reach 50 hits in his first 30 major league games and is the first player to do so since 1936 when both Joe DiMaggio and Roy Weatherly accomplished the feat.
More importantly, he has helped lead his team on a run that saw the Dodgers move from last place in the NL West standings to tied for second.
“There’s a lot of buzz about Puig and rightfully so,” said Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti. “At least for the first four weeks, he’s been one of the better players in the game.”
However, it’s the fact that he has only played in four weeks’ worth of big league games that have incensed several players and coaches. Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon has been adamant that Puig does not deserve a selection, even going as far as calling it a “joke.” Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia said that given the option, he would not choose Puig.
“If he continues playing the way he does, I think he does (deserve it),” Colletti said. “I think if you’re trying to put the best players on the field, at least for the first four weeks, give me someone who’s been better.”
Saturday at AT&T Park, Puig did little to bolster his credentials and fuel his detractors. He struck out in all four at-bats and left some wondering if his honeymoon period was finally coming to and end.
“It seemed like he was a little overaggressive,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “I thought he was kind of a little overaggressive out of the strike zone is kind of what we’ve seen. If he goes out of the strike zone he’s like everybody else – he’s not going to get a hit.”
The decision is out of the hands of the Dodgers’ and firmly in the hands of the fans. Online balloting will run until Thursday. Puig or Gonzalez could potentially join teammate Clayton Kershaw, and regardless of the outcome, the Dodgers will be happy.
“Adrian has had a good first half so obviously he’s in that mix and Yasiel, it will be fun to see if he gets in,” Mattingly said. “We’ll see.”