No single position player has been more mercurial this season than Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.
The 22-year-old Cuban defector has taken the baseball world by storm. He was batting .443 with eight home runs and 17 RBIs. He has lifted Los Angeles back in contention in the NL West; the Dodgers went 16-11 in the first 27 games Puig has participated in since his June 2 call up.
But therein lies the problem. Puig has only been in the major leagues for about a month. The counterargument is obvious: he hasn’t had enough time to be deserving of an All-Star selection.
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon said as much during an interview with MLB Network Radio recently.
“The guy’s got a month, I don’t even think he’s got a month in the big leagues,” Papelbon said during the interview. “Just comparing him to this and that, and saying he’s going to make the All-Star team, that’s a joke to me.”
Puig has arguably been the most exciting player in baseball this season. He’s also been one of the most productive.
The All-Star Game is supposed to be a fans-first showcase of the sport’s greatest players. But at the same time, the game counts for home field advantage in the World Series.
If you asked fans if they would want to see Puig playing in the midsummer classic, I think the answer would be a resounding “yes”. If you asked them if Puig on the roster would give the National League the best chance at winning, the answer would probably be another resounding “yes”. But if you asked them if he deserved to be selected in light of his short amount of service, the answers would become much more muddled and varied.
Baseball is rooted in tradition. And traditionally, players must pay their dues with a certain amount of playing time before being considered for an All-Star honor.
“It’s just really what happens in baseball when … to me it really does an injustice to the veteran players that have been in the game for eight-, nine-, 10-plus years,” Papelbon said. “It kind of does them an injustice because they’ve worked so hard to stay there.”
If selected, no one would have played fewer games than Puig and been selected as an All-Star. But then again no one in baseball history has had a start to the career like this.
It’s an intriguing question, one that puts tradition and establishment at odds with statistics and production.
Major League Baseball will answer that question tonight at 6:30 when they reveal the rosters during the All-Star Game selection show on Fox.
What do you think? Is he deserving?