Fantasy Crush: Yasiel Puig
*** Update 6/1/2013 ***
The Dodgers have recalled Puig and will make his major league debut Monday, June 3, 2013.
Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone, but Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig is absolutely raking. So much so that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has hinted that Puig might make the Opening Day roster. Let’s remember for a second that Puig is 22 years old and has a total of 57 professional at bats. After he signed a 7 year contract last June for $42M, he played 9 games of rookie ball and 14 games for the Dodgers High A affiliate. That’s it. Then he comes to Spring Training this season and tears apart the Cactus League.
Talent evaluators have compared him to Vladimir Guerrero and Bo Jackson. Both of these comps are a little reckless. First, at age 22, Vlad Guerrero played in 90 MLB games, hit .302/.350/.483 with 11 HR. At that point, he had already 426 games of minor league ball where he’d logged 1562 at bats. Guerrero went on to play for 16 years and hit .318/.379/.553 with 449 career home runs. And really, Bo Jackson? Really? That’s just silly. Bo Jackson was an All Star baseball player, and a Pro Bowl running back in the NFL. Oh yeah, he also won the Heisman Trophy. So let’s not throw his name out there flippantly for any raw athlete that has some skills. Bo Jackson is an all time elite athlete.
So we’ve tapped the breaks a bit here, and of course Puig has his detractors. He’s raw. There’s not a spot In the lineup for him. Don’t put too much faith in spring stats. Etc. etc. etc.
The guy is hitting .526. That’s his batting average, not his SLG. His Spring OPS is 1.351. That’s ridiculous. Dylan Hernandez wrote that Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly said “If he was a shortstop or a third baseman, it would be really great right now.” Barring injury, that could be the best way to get his bat into the lineup. It makes some sense, the Dodgers don’t have anyone of note at third (all due respect to Nick Punto), and the 2012 Tigers proved that you can still win even with a terrible infield defense.
For fantasy purposes, putting him at 3B would be a dream come true. It would give him position flexibility which only increases his value. I nabbed him in my 10 team 5×5 keeper league for $1 last week. If he makes the Opening Day roster, that’s a steal. If he’s the Dodgers starting 3B, I feel like I won the lottery.
Of course he won’t hit over .500 in the regular season, but if he gets regular at bats I expect that he’ll put up monster numbers and run away with the NL Rookie of the Year award.
I’m all in on Yasiel Puig.
*** Update ***
The Dodgers have optioned Puig to Double A Chattanooga, so he’ll start the year there. On a related note, Carl Crawford is still Carl Crawford, so expect to see Puig patrolling left field for the Dodgers about April 21.