Major League Baseball got it right when it came to handling the situation with Yasiel Puig earning a roster spot in the 2013 All-Star Game.
Leave it up to the fans.
The 22-year-old rookie phenom from Cuba has posted video game-like numbers in limited time with the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, specifically a .407 batting average, with 8 HR, 19 RBI and a .435 on base percentage in 31 games (123 at bats).
But the debate has raged on, as a number of other players have logged nearly three times the at-bats.
Puig joins Ian Desmond (Nationals), Freddie Freeman (Braves), Hunter Pence (Giants) and teammate Adrian Gonzalez in the National League Final Vote, which will be decided by the fans.
As described on the All-Star Final Vote Wikipedia page, “the All-Star game manager, guided by the baseball commissioner’s office, selects a list of five nominees for the fans to choose from for the remaining roster spot for each league’s team”.
No one can envy the position that Bruce Bochy was put in as the manager of the National League, and many have discussed that storyline for days, including yours truly, via Twitter.
I feel for Bruce Bochy, because no matter what, he’s going to take a lot of heat on the All-Star decision he makes with Yasiel Puig. #MLB
— Kevin Paul (@kevinspaul) July 5, 2013
Opinions have been widely varied on the matter, with numerous high profile names chiming in. Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon may have been the most notable, considering how adamant he was that Puig remain on the outside looking in.
Aside from the messy tie game and the overall decision to make the All-Star game count (the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series), this has easily been the biggest debate over the Midsummer Classic in years.
Puig, symbolized by the #66 stamped on the back of his jersey, has almost become the proverbial devil of this year’s All-Star Game.
Only, he’s not a devil at all, unless you ask rivals of the National League West.
So, will Major League Baseball dance with the devil or not?
Here’s a sneaky little trick that Major League Baseball may have pulled off, and one that potentially will go unnoticed by many. It subtly hints that the league wants Puig included in the All-Star Game.
The league and Bochy failed to include any high profile, fan favorites into the final vote with Puig. Let’s revisit the list, along with each player’s stats and a few thoughts:
- Yasiel Puig (Dodgers): .407 AVG, .435 OBP, .683 SLG, 8 2B, 8 HR, 19 RBI, 4 SB in 123 AB’s; Notes: He almost instantly became a hot topic and a fan favorite.
- Ian Desmond (Nationals): .284 AVG, .326 OBP, .506 SLG, 23 2B, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 10 SB in 324 AB’s; Notes: Desmond has been fantastic this season, but with the general fan, his name is overshadowed in D.C. by the likes of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg.
- Freddie Freeman (Braves): .307 AVG, .384 OBP, .466 OBP, 16 2B, 9 HR, 56 RBI in 283 AB’s; Notes: Freeman is only a year older than Puig, but his name still doesn’t carry very much star power. Also, while he’s been solid, his 9 HR won’t blow away many baseball fans
- Adrian Gonzalez (Dodgers): .296 AVG, .349 OBP, .485 SLG, 19 2B, 13 HR, 53 RBI in 307 AB’s; Notes: He may be the biggest name in the group, but he’s likely less popular than his Cuban teammate, plus he lost some of his luster after a somewhat sub-par 2012 season in Boston
- Hunter Pence (Giants): .269 AVG, .314 OBP, .462 SLG, 22 2B, 13 HR, 43 RBI in 338 AB’s; Notes: The interesting thing about Pence is that he not only plays for Puig’s division rival, but also he’s had a lot of national exposure while the Giants have been in the World Series. Still, his average and stats are mediocre compared to others in the group.
To represent, or not to represent, that is the question…
The National League made it crystal clear that a bat will be added to its roster, and when you look at the above statistics, it becomes equally as clear that Puig has every right to be voted in.
Even though the end result of the All-Star game counts, this is still an event for the fans – and baseball fans are going to want to see a player this exciting on the field against the game’s best.
Fans are not going to care about how many at bats he has had. This is a “What have you done for me lately?” world that we live in.
Major League Baseball has presented us with a list that will almost unknowingly nudge most fans in the direction of Puig’s name. There simply is no Tebow-like figure to unseat him.
So, get ready for the fireworks, because with the competition above, it appears to be a good bet that Puig will be the winner by the time the vote ends on Thursday afternoon (July 11 at 4pm ET).
Puig has my vote. My dancin’ shoes are already on.
But, which side of the fence do you live on?
Will You Vote for Yasiel Puig in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Final Vote?
- Yes (67%, 2 Votes)
- No (33%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 3