This is me jumping on the Yasiel Puig bandwagon. Well, technically, I don’t jump. I float. Why? Wait, are you asking why I float or why I’m getting on the bandwagon? It’s pretty obvious why I float, so I’m going to assume you want to know why I’m on that there wagon. For the free web hits of course. There is a certain amount of Puigmania going on pretty much everywhere in the known universe, and especially on Uranus. Every time he comes up to bat, a samurai rescues seven kittens from that one ninja dude who cuts off their heads when someone masturbates. But this former Cuban outfielder represents an important case study in both his perceived value and his actual value. As always, we’ll be exploring these concepts. That is, after all, the normal Bear/Bull treatment. And based on the Puigmania, I sense that everyone is chomping at the bits about what to do with this guy, if anything. I promise the fact he’s already referred to as ManBearPuig will have no bearing on my decision. Maybe.
Called up and debuting on June 3rd of this year, Puig quickly showed that the hype was clearly warranted. In his second game, he hit two home runs and drove in five runs. In his fourth game, a grand slam. The following day? Another homerun. In that first week, Puig became only the 2nd player in the modern era to hit four homeruns in his first five games and also tied the Major League record for most RBI’s (10) in the same span. So far, in 20 games, he’s hit a robust 442/476/753 with 7 homeruns and 2 steals. WTF is right. Let’s partake in a GIF recap on some of the remarkable things Puig’s done.
This three-run homer was against
the my Padres.
Clearly, luck had something to with it.
A remarkable diving catch against
the my Padres… again, a clear cut case of luck.
Yasiel Puig’s first career grand slam… not against
the my Padres. Check out that legitimate skill!
Impressive, no? Even as a professed masochistic San Diego sports fan, which, yes, I know, is a redundant statement, I recognize the skills and respect them. But do I believe in them? Well, to an certain extent, of course I do. But here at Bear/Bull, we explore strange new projections, seek out new ways to look at stats, we boldly choose animals the best we can. Or something like that. So with that being said, his .509 BABIP in 82 PA’s is totally sustainable, said no one ever. We have to accept the fact that this is not his true talent level because there is no such thing as this talent level. If you want to try to argue that he’ll hit 36 homeruns with 73 RBI’s and 70 runs for the rest of the season, I would most likely want what you were smoking. No, I’m sure I’d want what you were smoking. So let’s just say Yasiel Puig is doing incredibly well, but will most likely not continue doing so. So the task here is two-fold, because I like folding paper, two times I guess. We need to figure out how much he’ll regress and whether or not you should cash in before said regression takes place.
Even though its easy to point to Puig’s .509 BABIP and call it day, if you know me, there won’t be a hanging of my hat on just one statistical indicator. If you don’t know me, then you should, because I smell of lavender and a touch of lilac. There are other factors at work that can help illustrate the type of player Puig is. I can accept the fact that Puig is an athletic specimen that has an abundance of raw tools at his disposal. More specifically, he has a good amount of speed and a great amount of raw power. But he also has a fair amount of strike zone problems. So far, he has drawn three non-intentional walks to 17 strikeouts. That’s a BB% of 3.7 and K% of 20.7. This isn’t necessarily the end of the world. In fact, do you know who shares similar BB and K career percentages? Adam Jones and Carlos Gomez.
Those are very intriguing comps, and I think one could conceivably come up with the same names just by anecdotal means. These two outfielders represent an offensive palette that has both power and speed along with lousy plate discipline, just like Puig. Presumably, the next question is, will Yasiel Puig make enough contact to be a career .280 hitter like Adam Jones? Or closer to the career .255 hitter Carlos Gomez is? Table time!
Note: Swing%- Total percentage of pitches a batter swings at, Contact%- Total percentage of contact made when swinging at all pitches, SwStr%- Swinging Strike Percentage.
The breakdown shows us a number of things. First, Puig is swinging at the most pitches. Second, he’s making the least amount of contact. And, thirdly, he has the highest swinging strike percentage. So, in fact, these plate discipline numbers tell us that Yasiel Puig might be worse than we thought. A lot worse. Or could be one of the best players in baseball. You don’t… what?
When searching for a player with the closest plate discipline profile in the history of the MLB, that’s the closest comp I could find– Josh Hamilton. Obviously, the Hambone of 2013 is clearly not the guy I’m talking about. (Not to mention I already warned you about him a few months back) But career wise, I think both the Dodgers and fantasy owners would be giddy with anticipation if this is who Puig will turn out to be. Now, we are still in the infant stages of Yasiel Puig’s career, so to extrapolate what little sample size we have into some kind of firm conclusion is folly. But I should note that, according to the post I did on stat thresholds, Puig’s K% has stabilized, in that, his 20.7% could be in the ballpark of his true talent level. We’ll have to wait about 40 more PA’s for his BB% to stabilize, but, again, I hate to beat on a dead horse, because that’s morbid, but also because anything could happen in terms of Puig’s prognosis. Pitchers will adjust as time goes on, and so must Puig if he wishes to progress as a player. His closest comp, Josh Hamilton, shows us that an aggressive hitter can still be an elite hitter… for a while at least. It only took the league what, almost a decade to figure out Hambone? That’s a lot of time to do a lot of damage. But the operative phrase here is ‘counter adjustment’. That’s when we’ll see who and what Puig is.
Regression will happen. That much is for certain. How much? That is less certain. The power and speed are legitmate, no doubt. Puig’s current approach might hurt him. Or, he just might be so good at all the other things, no one will give a flying fudge. Mmmm. Fudge. For the rest of the season, I could see 42/14/52/270/5 over the next 70 or so games. But here’s the catch. In both redraft and keeper leagues, I’m trying to sell early and often. Look, I understand the mystique. Men want be him, and women want to sleep with him. Men also might want to sleep with him. I get it, I really do… but so does everyone else, 10-fold. I recently got asked on twitter if I would trade Yasiel Puig for Evan Longoria.
That is a ridiculously perfect example of selling high. And also how to shaka without getting in the way of such a handsome face. Dat cultured look brah. Yeah, Yasiel Puig might be the next Josh Hamilton. I know this because I’m the one who said it. But even I have to accept the fact that Puig’s only played in 20 games. He could also be the next Jeff Francoeur despite everything I’ve typed out. If you can get a top-30 hitter or top-20 pitcher, I’m probably doing it.
In dynasty leagues, I’m approaching this the exact same way. If you’re going for it, flags fly forever, etc., so yes, if the move helps you now, sell. You need that ace pitcher? Dangle him out there. Need an elite corner infielder? See the tweet above. What if you are in standings basement amidst a fire sale? Holding onto him as a cornerstone player is just fine and dandy, and I can’t argue against this. But why not put him on the block and see if you can get multiple young elite pieces to mitigate your future risk? As you might tell by now, the conclusion seems to be that I want you to sell sell sell. That’s not the case at all. Just know that what he’s done in the last two weeks has not been done before. And he will most likely not do it again. What I’m saying is, why not find someone who thinks different? Put him out there. Worst case scenario, someone doesn’t want to pay an exorbitant price, you have a potential superstar in the making. This is the win-win scenario every fantasy player wants to be in.
Folks, what can I say? There is no debate. ManBearPuig is most certainly half man, and most certainly half bear… but he’s definitely all Puig.
Jaywrong is a 30-year old Korish writer who finds solace using Makers Mark as a vehicle to impress average-looking women, and also has an affinity for making Jennifer Lawrence GIFs. You can follow him @jaywrong, read his blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow, or, you can find his GIFs at his tumblr, named Siuijeonseo.