Monday, September 01, 2014

What's Eating Yasiel Puig?

Yasiel Puig hasn't looked the same at the plate for a while now, and it seems like he's striking out an awful lot and worse than that, his swing is all over the board and inconsistent. We know that Don Mattingly's response was to keep Puig out of the starting lineup on Friday against the Padres, but will that be enough to circuit-break his downward spiral?

SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have become concerned enough about Yasiel Puig's nearly monthlong batting slump that manager Don Mattingly held him out of the starting lineup for Friday night's game in San Diego, the second time the outfielder has been out of the starting lineup in the past week.

Mattingly said he sensed Puig's frustration level has, at times, taken him out of his game.

The concern is that Puig's relentless style makes it difficult for him to stay consistent throughout a major league season. Last year, Puig came up in June and sparked the Dodgers' charge until batting .202 in September and having inconsistent at-bats in the playoffs.

"The season is long, and it wears you down," Mattingly said. "It's part of learning to regulate yourself here, as far as rest or anything else. We've seen Dee Gordon and how much more consistent his approach is day in and day out now, staying at a certain level. I think Yasiel's really emotional, and it's hard to be really emotional and play 162." [...]

Entering Friday, Puig was batting .192 in his previous 20 games. He was invited to participate in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game, yet he has hit just two home runs since May 28. Mattingly said Puig is showing signs of frustration, often swinging at pitches well outside the strike zone.

The LA Times also picked up on Puig's slump:

Picking June 6 as a turning point is not arbitrary. That’s the date Puig told The Times’ Dylan Hernandez that he experienced tightness in his left hip after making an awkward slide — is there any other kind with Puig? — in an attempt to break up a double play in Colorado.

Hernandez wrote two weeks later that Puig seemed resigned to playing the rest of the season with the discomfort and wasn’t concerned that he might develop a more serious injury by continuing to play.

“I’m not thinking about that,” he said. “I’m just thinking of getting treatment and giving the best of myself on the field. I try to play all nine innings.”

Only right now, he’s not helping the team much at the plate. His strikeouts are up a tad and his walks down slightly, but mostly it’s his missing power that’s troubling. A slugging-percentage drop of .593 to .408 is what you might call serious.

Of course, last year he went into a somewhat similar funk. He had a ridiculous line of .373/.436/.581 in his first 62 games, and a line of .233/.319/.445 over his last 42 games. Maybe he’s playing hurt, maybe he’s just being Puig.

ESPN and the LAT aren't on to something revolutionary here; even Charley Steiner can see it. And if Charley can see it, considering how he often can't tell whether a fly ball is a home run or an infield out, then Puig's problems from the plate have got to be pretty obvious.

If Mattingly wants to give Puig some time off, let's do so (especially now that rosters have expanded). Moving Puig all over the lineup can't help any either; just give him a rest! I'm sure Andre Ethier would appreciate a start or two!


Alex Cora said...

Answer sent. Uribe.