When your name gets mentioned with the likes of Joe DiMaggio, you must be accomplishing some pretty good stuff on the baseball diamond.
Such is the case with L.A. Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig. With a 4-for-5 hitting performance last Sunday, Puig closed the month of June with 44 hits. This is second to DiMaggio’s 48 for most hits by a rookie in the first month of his career. The Splendid Splinter set the mark in May 1936.
Puig’s 44 hits surpassed Steve Sax’s 43 for most hits by a L.A. Dodger rookie in any month. The franchise record is held by Brooklyn Dodger rookie Pete Coscarart with 48 hits in September 1939.
His magical first month included seven home runs, 16 RBIs, a .436 batting average and a robust .713 slugging percentage. The native of Cuba scored 19 runs and stole four bases.
Puig also set the mark for highest batting average over his first 22 games at .442. That topped former St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Terry Pendleton, who came on the scene like a blockbuster in 1984 when he hit .422 in his first 22 contests.
Toss in three outfield assists that showcased his cannon arm and he has put together one of the best first months by any rookie in the history of Major League Baseball. Heck, it’s one of the best months ever by any player in any season.
But, alas, he should not be in the All-Star Game in New York on July 16.
Following Sunday’s action, Puig had played in just 26 games and recorded 101 at bats. He might go on to be the best player of all time – but for now, his sample size is too small.
The All-Star Game rosters will be announced on Friday, July 5. The Dodgers open a three-game series in San Francisco the same evening. The National League will have World Series champion manager Bruce Bochy at its helm.
Last Wednesday, Bochy told the L.A. Times, “Generally, guys that go to the All-Star Game are guys that have a great first half, not a great three weeks. If you ask me a week from now, I may say I’ve changed my mind.”
Puig went on to have a great week, including his best day in the Majors on Sunday.
I hope Bochy doesn’t change his mind.
Since commissioner Bud Selig’s office consults with All-Star Game managers on final rosters, my guess is that there will be pressure to select Puig. He’s currently the hottest thing in the majors on the field and in the public relations/marketing world.
If Bochy does not give in, Puig will certainly be added to the silly fan vote that will name an additional player to the NL roster. This means that a more deserving player will be left off the team.
The Puig dilemma again shows that MLB doesn’t know whether its All-Star Game is an exhibition or a serious game that determines which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
This ridiculous rule worked against the Cardinals (105 wins to 98) in 2004 when the Boston Red Sox held home field. I wonder how things would have worked out if the Texas Rangers had home-field advantage in 2011.
Puig could be a potent weapon off the bench – but it doesn’t change the fact that the game should be for those who have accomplished more than a tremendous first five weeks of a career.
Puig will find a place on the team. It should not come from Bochy, though. If the fans want to vote him in, there isn’t much to say other than “play ball.”
By the way, I never root for the American League.