So you're thinking to yourself that (A) Ray hates the Dodgers, (B) Ray hates foreign born players, (C) Ray hates young players or (D) Ray hates Puig because he's a moron off the field. The only one that is true is (A) – I do hate the Dodgers (my grandfather literally brought to the hospital, the day I was born, a Giants hat. As a lifelong Bay Area resident, my hatred for the Dodgers is real. Truth be told, they are about the only thing that I hate in this world, other than onions). The simple fact is that I'm trying to keep things real with Puig. I don't think enough people do that. We all want to believe the best in everyone, that every young player will improve, that ever talent will shine through to the limits of their ability. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't. In the case of Puig there's a lot of work to do, that's why I'm down on him. Some facts on Puig.
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(1) He's got elite talent.
(2) He does some things exceedingly well. The guy mashed last year hitting .319 with a .925 OPS, and you can't do that unless you were blessed with talent.
(3) He's immature on the field and off it. He needs a life coach to help him out off the field, and he needs to listen to the veterans the Dodgers have so that he can learn the “right” way to play the game.
(4) There are certain markers of a young player that needs to develop. Let me list a few that I didn't note in detail previously.
Puig walked only 36 times in 432 plate appearances. That's awful. Carlos Santana walked 20 times in September and 35 times over the last two months of the season. Six of the walks for Puig were intentional by the way. He must learn to take pitches (you must have came to that same conclusion after reading my earlier thoughts on Puig).
Puig struck out 97 times. People strike out a ton anymore, I get it, but once every 3.98 at-bats is not an impressive rate, not in the least. The resulting 0.37 BB/K rate was worse than the league average of 0.40 from 2013. This doesn't speak well to those who are hoping Puig bats .300. Another concern for Puig is the fact that he posted a .383 BABIP. That's a massive number. It's coming down in 2014. There's also this. Puig posted a 19.1 percent line drive rate in 2013. The league average mark is usually about 20 percent. That's not the mark of a guy who is consistently going to hit .300, at least in most cases.
What about the homers? Puig hit 19 last season, and if he kept up that pace over 550 at-bats he would go deep 27 times. That's a solid number, but nowhere near elite. Moreover, his batted ball chart from last season suggests caution if you expect him to exceed that level of production in 2014. Puig simply doesn't lift the ball enough. Last season he had a ground ball rate of 50.2 percent. You know who else had a mark like that? Try Starlin Castro (50.7), Jon Jay (50.5) and Zack Cozart (50.3). Those guys seem like power hitters to you? With so many grounders how did Puig hit so many homers last season? Look no further than his 21.8 percent HR/F ratio. That mark was the same as Giancarlo Stanton and the 7th best mark in baseball among guys with at least 400 plate appearances. Chances are pretty good that his HR/F ratio will dip in 2014.
What about Puig's work on the base paths? Puig stole 11 bases but was caught eight times. That's a 58 percent success rate. Studies have shown that if you are successful on less than 67 percent of your steal attempts that you are actually harming your teams ability to score runs. Puig was a net negative on the base paths last season. That begs the question; will the Dodgers give Puig the stop sign at times in 2014? Only one player in the NL with less than 11 steals was caught more (Gerardo Parra was caught 10 times in 20 attempts). Puig must get better with his success rate.