This famous cliché is always tossed around when a player has a hot start to his career. But to use another cliché, Yasiel Puig takes the cake.
Through his first nine games, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 22-year-old phenom batted .471 with four home runs and 10 RBIs, including a number of clutch hits. He became just the second player since 1900 to hit four home runs in his first five games, with the other being Mike Jacobs of the New York Mets in 2005.
Puig, who was scratched from Wednesday's starting lineup with a sore shoulder, was rightfully named NL Player of the Week in his first full week of action.
The Dodgers needed some sort of jolt after sitting in last place despite spending an obscene amount of money in the last calendar year. Just as it seemed that hope was running out, Puig has resurrected the franchise.
It’s tough to shower praise upon a player after only a little over a week. And it’s foolish to think he’ll maintain his .471 clip. But he’s an extremely exciting player who has single-handedly saved what was turning into a miserable Dodgers season.
In fact, the Dodgers sold more Puig merchandise last week in a four-day period than the team had ever sold for any individual player. That’s impressive since the Dodgers have had some huge names including Mike Piazza, Hideo Nomo, Manny Ramirez and Fernando Valenzuela.
The Dodgers are still in last place by a pretty hefty margin of 7 1/2 games. Though he right now is carrying the team on his back, Puig will need some additional support from the rest of the team if the Dodgers plan on making a run.
Once opposing pitchers find his weakness -- if there actually is one -- he’ll come back down to earth. But for now, he is Hollywood’s brightest star.
With Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford on the disabled list, Puig has filled a gaping void in the outfield. Kemp also just suffered a setback with his strained right hamstring and will now not be back in a few days as expected.
Andre Ethier has been playing center field in Kemp’s absence with Puig in right field and hitting clean-up. But Ethier is only hitting .236, and already he seems to be the expendable one when Kemp and Crawford are ready to return.
Prior to last season, the Cuban native Puig signed a seven-year, $42 million contract, so it really was only a brief matter of time before he arrived at the big league level. He hit .526 this spring, but the team chose to send him to the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts to further develop.
It’s amazing how fast the legend of Puig has grown this past week. From multi-homer games to grand slams to getting hit square in the nose and remaining in the game during the Dodgers’ recent brawl game with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A baseball career is not built in one week, so to avoid just being a flash in the pan, Puig has a long way to go. But there’s no doubt he has infused a needed sense of vigor back into the Dodgers organization.