Fangraphs looks at Puig

Eno Sarris at Fangraphs took a look at Puig and who is comps might be.

Let’s be pessimistic! Let’s cut off those good 2013 and 2014 seasons and focus on the last two years. In those years, he walked 7.4% of the time, struck out 20.6 % of the time, and hit for a .260/.323/.425 line that was 7% better that league average. That’s been paired with negative defensive value — not terrible work with the glove, as he’s ranged between -1 and -3 in that category, but below zero.

Man, I sometimes wonder about defensive metrics.  At times last year,  I thought Puig played a great right field, and I have a hard time coming to grips with the idea he was below average in right field. I guess those early season sun troubles weighed heavily.

Anyway,  I liked the offensive comps, Pedro Guerrero would work fine for me in any Dodger universe given he was one of my favorite Dodgers to ever watch swing a bat.

I’ve always held that Puig has a chance to be something akin to Roberto Clemente. That usually gets a guffaw from anyone who hears or reads that but let me make a small case. Clemente was a HOF but most don’t know the history of Clemente. He started playing when he was 20 but it was not until he was 27 that he would string together the success that has made him a household baseball name.

From age 20 – 27, Roberto only had an OPS+ of 105 even after amassing 4300 plate appearances. At age 26 Roberto was one of the top five players in the game, finally having the breakout season that many had predicted for him. But the following year, in 1962 Roberto would fall back to being just above average. Puig was one of the best players in the game in 2013 and 2014 before falling back to the disappointing levels of 2015 and 2016.

The similarities:

  • From neighboring islands Cuban and Puerto Rico
  • Both signed by the Dodgers
  • Right handed Right fielders
  • Boasting the best arm of their era
  • Early maturity issues
  • Both struggled after a quick peak
  • Massive charisma
  • Injuries
  • More of a hitter than a slugger
  • Not much for taking the walk
Player Age PA 2B 3B HR SB CS
Puig 22-25 1751 84 16 57 30 20
Clemente 20-27 4374 191 67 75 32 30
Puig 153 361 0.287 0.361 0.472 0.833 133
Clemente 209 459 0.3 0.334 0.434 0.768 105

Most only remember Clemente as the HOF hero who died trying to help his fellow man, but in the beginning,  he had his issues with management and throughout his career was labeled injury prone. This is the excellent sabr bio on Clemente.

Phil Musick, a reporter who covered the Pittsburgh Pirates during the final years of Clemente’s career, said, “He was anything but perfect. He was vain, occasionally arrogant, often intolerant, unforgiving, and there were moments when I thought for sure he’d cornered the market on self-pity. Mostly, he acted as if the world had just declared all-out war on Roberto Clemente, when in fact it lavished him with an affection few men ever know.”

However, Musick added, “I know that through all of his battles . . . there was about him an undeniable charisma. Perhaps that was his true essence–he won so much of your attention and affection that you demanded of him what no man can give, perfection.”51

Sure the odds are crazy high that Puig never comes close to approaching what Clemente did, but in his favor is the fact, at his age,  he has already accomplished more than Roberto. Puig just needs to get back on that track he was on when he was the most electrifying player in baseball.

One other fun read if you are interested. What would have happened if Clemente had stayed a Brooklyn Dodger?

Clemente won two World Series championships with the Pirates during his career. If he stayed with the Dodgers, Clemente had the opportunity to garner at least a half-dozen rings, potentially making him one of the most decorated players of his generation. The bountiful Dodgers knew that when they signed Clemente in Puerto Rico that they were going to have a tough time holding him in the minor leagues while their core players aged. If Clemente spent his entire career as a Dodger, he could have certainly put their dynasty on par with the Yankees. However, the fans of Pittsburgh may never have known the spirit of Clemente that resonated far beyond the two championships he brought to the Steel City.


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