What does Puig/Harper/Stanton/Cutch have in common?
Andrew Simon of MLB.com thinks that all of these players are candidates to bounce back in 2017. That isn’t a very big limb to climb out on.
- Harper is just one year removed from being the MVP.
- Cutch is just one year removed from being a top five MVP four years in a row.
- Stanton is one year removed from two straight years with an OPS+ over 150.
Those three are about the sturdiest oak tree limb you could possibly climb out when forecasting improvement in 2017 from 2016.
Puig however, is a different limb. That is a tenuous limb, not made of oak, and could snap at any time. So let us see why he feels this way. Unlike the others, it has been since June 12, 2015 that Puig stopped being a superstar and became an ordinary outfielder.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
2016 wRC+: 102
Projected wRC+: 126
Puig just turned 26 in December, and as recently as 2014, he posted the fourth-highest wRC+ in the NL (148). That’s how a guy who has played 183 disappointing games since, and was demoted to Triple-A for a month last summer, ranks 16th in projected wRC+ between Buster Posey and Carlos Correa. As Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Wednesday, “I think the upside is significant.”
Health and approach at the plate both have been nagging issues for Puig, and there have been questions about whether he maintains the same athleticism and bat speed that he displayed early in his big league career. He still hit .297/.371/.486 and averaged a 92.0-mph exit velocity after returning from the disabled list last June 21 — before and after his time in the Minors.
OK, nothing insightful here about why he is a candidate other than the fact he once was a rising superstar and is still very young. Nothing about why he’s going to hit right-handers again except he did it once. I guess this is the Ron Shandler if you display a skill once you own that skill type of analysis.
I’m taking the leap of faith. I’m on this Puig train this year, and I hope to see this train chugging all year long as he shows his fans and ex-fans why he was the most exciting player in baseball for almost two years.