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2013 Dodgers review: Nick Punto

A look back at the 2013 season of the versatile infielder.

Though known more for his headfirst slides into first base, here is Nick Punto scoring at home, feet first.
Though known more for his headfirst slides into first base, here is Nick Punto scoring at home, feet first.
Stephen Dunn

Nick Punto played three infield positions for the Dodgers and showed patience at the plate during his time in Los Angeles. Here is a look back at his 2013 season.

What went right

Before the major league season began, Punto was red hot in the World Baseball Classic, hitting .476 (8-for-19) with two doubles and two walks to help underdog Italy advance to the second round of the tournament.

April, and really well into May were red hot for Punto, who filled in nicely all over the infield. Punto hit .400 (14-for-35) in April then kept it going, and as late as May 25 was hitting .340/.427/.420.

Punto was also hot in August, hitting .302/.404/.488 with five doubles, a home run and eight walks in 52 plate appearances. His home run was his second of the season, and came with Danny DeVito in attendance. Teammate and carpool buddy Skip Schumaker jokingly referred to the diminutive Punto as DeVito often and even managed to sneak a Punto jersey for DeVito, sitting right next to the Dodgers dugout, to wear at the game, providing this wonderfully bizarre highlight:

Among position players Punto's walk rate of 9.86% of his plate appearances ranked fifth on the team, behind only Scott Van Slyke, Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis and Ramon Hernandez.

Punto was adept all over the infield for the Dodgers, giving them a versatile weapon off the bench. Punto started 33 games at shortstop, 21 games at second base, and 17 more at third base in 2013.

What went wrong

Manager Don Mattingly liked to say that Punto was at his best playing two to three times per week, but in May Punto started 21 games, hit most in any month since June 2010. After that Punto went through a 42-game stretch without an extra-base hit, hitting .147/.191/.174 (16-for-109) through the end of July).

In Game 4 of the NLCS, down two with one out in the seventh inning, Punto doubled to start a rally for the Dodgers. But he was promptly picked off second base to effectively end the threat.

2014 status

Punto was the first of the Dodgers' 12 major league free agents to sign elsewhere, inking a one-year deal with the A's worth $3 million, plus a club option for 2015.