It's a lot of fun to watch Yasiel Puig and talk about how great of a start he's gotten off to. It's also a lot of fun comparing his first seven games to past and present Dodgers and MLB Hall-of-Famers' first seven. Some of those former (and one current) players had above average or well below average starts to their careers. Not surprisingly, none of the six Hall-of-Famers below, and two Dodgers' star players, played better over their first seven games than Puig.
Note: In order to keep the statistics in a one week time frame (the week Puig won the NL player of the week award), I didn't count Puig's statistics in Monday's game.
Jackie Robinson - Robinson's first week was pretty good, but not as good as Puig's. The second baseman hit .346 with one homer, one RBI, one double, and one stolen base. In the end, Robinson was 9-for-26 over those seven games, three of which were multi-hit games.
Matt Kemp - The outfielder did pretty well in his first seven games seeing as he only started in four of them. Kemp's average was .350 over his first seven games, going 7-for-20. The Bison hit three home runs, tallied 8 RBI, scored seven runs, stole one base, walked twice, and struck out five times.
Mike Piazza - The catcher was doubted from day one when the Dodgers drafted him in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft. In his first seven games in the majors, Piazza didn't demonstrate any of the power he would eventually use to his advantage. Piazza was 6-for-21, a .286 average, with one double, two walks, four strike outs, and no homers or RBI.
Duke Snider - The center fielder's first seven games were not very exciting because he didn't start in any of them. In his first seven, Snider was 3-for-8, a .375 average, with one double, two strikeouts, and no home runs, RBI, or stolen bases. Defensively, the outfielder didn't have any assists either. Snider would eventually go on to have a career that puts him in the discussion as one of the greatest center fielders of all time.
Willie Mays - Mays finished his career with 660 home runs and a .302 batting average. But during his first seven games, it didn't look like Mays would finish with a ton of home runs or a decent batting average. In his first seven, Mays went 1-for-26, a .038 batting average, with one homer, one RBI, three strikeouts, and six walks. While his first hit was a home run, going for 1-26 over his first seven games (he started all of them) isn't that great.
Ted Williams - The outfielder's first seven games were pretty good for a rookie, but obviously not as good as Puig's. Williams was 11-for-32, a .344 average, with one home run, five RBI, four doubles, one walk, and six strikeouts. The Hall-of-Famer's first week showed everyone he could hit with consistency. Williams' career batting average was also .344.
Roberto Clemente - Before looking at Clemente's stats over his first seven games, it's interesting to point out how he ended up in Pittsburgh. In 1952, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Clemente as an amateur free agent. Two years later, the Pirates drafted Clemente from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft. Now onto his first seven games. Clemente was 11-for-30, a .367 average, with one home run, six RBI, two doubles, one triple, one walk, and four strikeouts. The future Hall-of-Famer went on to have a fantastic career, hitting .317 with 3,000 hits.
Mickey Mantle - The former Yankees' outfielder is consistently mentioned in the same group as Mays, Clemente, Snider and Williams as one of the best outfielders in baseball history. But his first seven games made it look like he would be just an average player. Mantle was 8-29, a .276 average, with no home runs, five RBI, one double, one triple, two walks, and seven strike outs. The outfielder would ultimately go on to have a tremendous career that ended with a plaque in Cooperstown.
Now onto Puig...
13-for-28, a .464 average, four homers, 10 RBI, two doubles, one walk, and four strikeouts. Not bad for a guy who has been in the major leagues for just seven games.
During spring training, showed signs that he could make an immediate impact as soon as he made it to Los Angeles. In spring training, Puig was 30-for-58, a .517 average, with three home runs, 11 RBI, five doubles, two triples, 11 strikeouts, and four stolen bases. Not bad for someone who had only played 23 minor league games in 2012.
On his first day in the MLB, Puig showed off how far he can throw the ball. The next day, he showed everyone how hard he could hit them too, twice. If Puig can keep it up, and Crawford and Kemp return to form, the Dodgers' 1-4 hitters might be one of the best groups in the National League, if not all of baseball.
The outfielder has excited everyone from Vin Scully, to Clayton Kershaw, to Dodgers fans, and finally to journalists across the country. If Puig can keep playing as well as he did over his first seven games, or close to it, he might just go on to have the career the team hoped he would when they signed him to a 7-year $42 million dollar deal almost a year ago.