The Hot Seat

The Dodgers sure have had problems with hamstrings this year. Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp both are on the disabled list with hamstring strains, and now Carl Crawford is dealing with a troublesome hammy of his own. With Kemp and Crawford out, the Dodgers had to do something. Thankfully, they decided to call up top prospect Yasiel Puig instead of just giving Scott Van Slyke even more playing time.

This is a “sound the alarm” situation much like Jurickson Profar’s recent call-up. Simply put, Puig needs to be owned in all leagues. Of course, many of the same questions associated with Profar’s 2013 fantasy relevance apply to Puig as well. The biggest issue fantasy owners face with either player is whether he’ll still have a job once his teammates are healthy. There’s no guarantee that Puig still will be on the major-league roster when Kemp and Crawford are back to 100 percent.

However, the Dodgers clearly need a spark, and Puig could be just what the doctor ordered. He was the darling of the organization during spring training when he recorded hits in over half of his at-bats (30-for-58, .517 AVG), ten of which went for extra bases. This season in Double-A, the 22-year-old has a .313/.383/.599 slash line with eight homers and 13 steals in 167 plate appearances.

Obviously, there’s always the matter of how quickly a rookie will adjust to playing the game at it’s highest level, but Puig has shown himself to be a surprisingly disciplined hitter for a player with so little stateside baseball experience. In his brief minor-league career, he has a 0.61 BB/K rate, which is a very respectable figure, especially considering Puig is one of the most powerful human beings in the game right now.

Seriously, go look at a picture of the guy. He’s busting out of his jersey like a mid-’90s Hulk Hogan. He’s 6-foot-3 and pushing 250 pounds. He looks more like an action movie star than a baseball player. He’s almost exactly the same size as All-Pro NFL linebacker Clay Matthews. Luckily for us, he is in fact a baseball player, and he’s really good at it.

As one would expect considering that he’s built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Puig has completely ridiculous power. What one wouldn’t expect is that he’s not Wily Mo Pena out there; this kid is an insane athlete. In fact, Puig reportedly will see most of his time in center field until Kemp returns.

Stop and think about that for a minute. A 6-foot-3, 245-pound center fielder? “Surely, you can’t be serious,” you’re likely thinking. I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley. In Double-A this year, he was on pace to swipe 52 bases and hit 32 homers in a 162-game season. Starting to pick up on why this guy could be so special?

Since the baseball world still doesn’t know all that much about the recent Cuban import, take a look at some quotes from someone who probably knows him better than anyone in America, his Double-A manager: {exp:list_maker}“He’s a five-tool player.” {/exp:list_maker} {exp:list_maker}“His pitch recognition and strike-zone discipline were outstanding.” {/exp:list_maker} {exp:list_maker}“I think he’s going to find success early up there. He’s recognizing spin out of the pitcher’s hand.” {/exp:list_maker}Convinced yet? If you’re not, consider that the two main knocks on Puig as a prospect right now are his defense and over-aggressive baserunning. Defense doesn’t matter in fantasy, and being over-aggressive on the basepaths is actually a good thing. As a fantasy owner, I don’t mind one bit if a player gets caught stealing too much. Take off for second every time you get on base for all I care. I’m just looking for the steals themselves over here, not net steals or a high stolen base percentage.

For all the accolades, Puig is still somewhat of a mystery, and no one is exactly certain what he’s going to do in the glare of the bright lights and television cameras. What we do know about him is that the upside is there for a potential superstar, and in fantasy, that’s a gamble worth taking every time.

The baseball world loves player comps, so a whole bunch of hyperbolic sportswriters out there are throwing Bo Jackson comps on Puig. It’s a lazy, bad comparison because there will never be another Bo Jackson. They’re only saying it because everybody remembers how awesome Jackson was, fans get all excited when they see his name, they click on the link to the story, and the site gets a bunch of extra traffic and, therefore, money.

Here at THT Fantasy, we like to be a little more level-headed in our analysis, which is why I just described Yasiel Puig as a combination of Hulk Hogan, Clay Matthews and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Trust me, you want Clay Hulkenegger on your fantasy team.

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  1. Scott Strandberg said...

    I like the Puig/Wright side; for me your question is more about the 3B swap. I think Wright and Longoria will have similar levels of production rest-of-season, so why not swap one for the other and get Puig as a throw-in? There’s signs in Longo’s peripherals that suggest he’s succeeding with some smoke and mirrors right now (crazy-high BABIP while also hitting way more fly balls than ever before is the definition of unsustainable).

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