2013 Topps Pro Debut Yasiel Puig
Now, I can be a tradition baseball guy and love some of the unwritten rules and nuances of the game, but I also recognize talent when I see it. There are a few guys deserving of an All-Star game appearance from National League teams that are going to spend their All-Star breaks undeservedly sitting at home. Yasiel Puig could potentially be in that group of players next week, but should not be. So, lets tackle the time argument first.
The biggest knock against Puig going to the All-Star game is that he's played for the Dodgers during June and part of July. Jonathan Papelbon insinuated that Puig had somehow not paid his dues because he's only played part of a season. Where were these people last year when Mike Trout played May, June, and July? Nobody complained about his selection to the All-Star team and everyone was quick to point out that Trout was one of the best young talents in the game and was enjoying one of the best rookie seasons in the history of the game. In fact, I spent some time on Google and cannot find a single player, website, or blog that complained about Trout appearing in last summer's All-Star game. None.
So Puig has about thirty days less time into the season than Trout. Did you notice he is hitting over .400 with 16 extra base hits, an on-base percentage of .441, and an OPS of 1.101. I don't care that he's only played a month and a half, how many players in Major League Baseball have put those numbers up in a month this season? None. How many active players in Major League Baseball have put up numbers like over a single month? Few. So, if you are a stats guy there really is no argument despite the fact that his window in the league this season has been somewhat limited. The limited window is unprecedented and extraordinary. Like Trout last season, you know when nobody was complaining about service time.
Let's take on one more tradition baseball notion. I remember the last season that Ozzie Smith played in 1996 and how he got to go to the All-Star game, enter the game as a pinch hitter, and get a standing O from the crowd in Philadelphia. Ozzie was not the Cardinals starting shortstop that season and only had 101 at-bats at the All-Star game with a .267 average and an OPS of .638. Why did Ozzie get to go to the All-Star Game? I think most baseball traditionalist would agree that Ozzie got to the All-Star game as part of his farewell tour. He was a Hall of Fame player and at that point in his career fans did not care that he was riding the pine behind Royce Clayton, they wanted to see Ozzie. He was a great player and a fan favorite. So, what's this got to do with Puig?
There are many traditional baseball people that are willing to make exceptions for guys like Ozzie. Sure, he's barely played and is not even really the starting player at his position on his team, but heck it's Ozzie Smith. How many people remember the Cal Ripken thing in 2001 during his last All-Star game?
How many people remember he was hitting .252 with three home runs when he was selected to the team in 2001? Everyone just simply remembers the fact that he hit a home run and won the MVP award. Old guys catch breaks because fans love them and want to see them one last time. Why doesn't the fence swing both ways on this issue? If old guys who do not have the numbers to actually make the All-Star game get in, then why don't young guys, with or without name recognition, get to play when their numbers are superior?
Honestly, how many people have actually stayed up and watched the guy play? As a baseball fan living in the Eastern Time Zone I admit it is a difficult thing to do, but I have taken time the past few weeks to take some extra time to peek in on a few Dodgers games. Puig is a fun guy to watch. Home runs, hustle, running into walls, great throws...in other words a person that every baseball fan should get to see. What better stage to do that then the All-Star game? He's energized the Dodgers from a group of overpaid veterans wallowing in the cellar of the N.L. West to a potential playoff contender two games out of first.
As a Cardinals fan I think about it this way: The All-Star game counts for home field advantage in the World Series. I know it's a stupid idea, but thats the way the world works right now. The Cardinals are currently in first place in their division and have an excellent shot at making the playoffs this season. Once you get into the playoffs anything can happen, but I like my teams chances. However, the advantage of getting the extra home game is crucial. Did Prince Fielder get a ring and a World Series share for his three-run home run that won the 2011 All-Star game for the National League? I am guessing he did not, but the Cardinals could not have won that pennant without Prince. So, as the fan of a contending team I want the best team and players possible for my league. That's why my final vote goes to the guy hitting .400 with power: #votepuig