As astoundingly and accurately predicted by True Blue LA's own Phil Gurnee in the 2013 season preview, Yasiel Puig made his major-league debut in for the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 3, 2013, one year ago today. And the fireworks began.
For the past 365 days, fans and critics alike have, at times, focused enormous attention on every hit, assist, overthrown cut-off man, and baserunning exploit or gaffe made by the now 23-year old Cuban outfielder during each of the Dodgers 166 games over that time span, almost as much as Tom Hansen obsessed over Summer Finn for 500 days a few years back.
Maybe that's what happens when a player debuts with a walkoff outfield assist from the warning track (as witnessed by this writer), immediately follows up with the best second game as a Dodger ever while clouting two home runs in the process, and belts a grand slam, all leading to him being named the National League Player of the Week right out of the gate.
But one thing that has become indisputable after his first year in the majors is that Puig is an offensive force:
|365 Days of Yasiel Puig|
Those are MVP-caliber numbers dancing before our eyes.
With so many teams seemingly married to the idea of debuting top prospects in June in order to avoid "Super-Two" arbitration status for those players, maybe June to May will be the new rookie campaign standard. Or not. In any case, given the Dodgers long history with Rookie of the Year Award success, a natural comparison is Puig's numbers above to the top Dodger offensive rookie seasons, since the inception of the award in 1947:
|Top Dodgers Rookie Seasons Since 1947 (min 350 PA, 110 OPS+ or better)|
|Per this report from baseball-reference.com. wRC+ and wOBA from fangraphs.com|
|* Rookie of the Year|
|† Technically not a rookie season. While he did not exceed the 130 AB threshold for rookies before 1973, he did exceed the 45-day service time requirement in 1971. But it's a cool season, so I left it.|
Puig's own rookie season tops this list, and only Tommy Lasorda's godson's tear through the National League compares to Puig's trip to date through the senior circuit. It appears an attempt to put Puig's first 365 days into perspective requires a comparison to all major leaguers:
|Rookie Seasons Since 1947 (min 350 PA, 155 OPS+ or better)|
|Fred Lynn||1975||23||Red Sox||162||.331||.401||.566||.967|
|Carlton Fisk||1972||24||Red Sox||162||.293||.370||.538||.909|
|Per this report from baseball-reference.com.|
While there is only one Hall-of-Famer on that list (Fisk), these are very, very good ballplayers indeed, and mostly quite memorable seasons for those that witnessed them. Puig's first 365 days fits quite comfortably among these rookie seasons.
It's been a year of Yasiel Puig. Enjoy it. Offensive shows like this don't come around all too often.