How can a guy who has only played 31 games in the first half of a season even be considered for an All-Star selection?
Well, if that guy hits .407, then he’s certainly in the mix. That guy is Los Angeles Dodgers’ young phenom Yasiel Puig.
From his first game in the big leagues, Puig has turned heads. In addition to hitting .407, he’s clubbed eight home runs, driven in 19 runs and has collected 50 hits in those 31 games.
While the Dodgers fan campaigned to send Puig to the All-Star Game, he wound up finishing well behind starters Carlos Beltran, Bryce Harper and Carlos Gonzalez. NL manager Bruce Bochy chose Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Cuddyer and Domonic Brown as his outfield reserves.
But Puig’s All-Star hope is still alive as he is one of five players appearing on the NL final vote ballot. Puig joins his teammate Adrian Gonzalez, Freddie Freeman, Ian Desmond and Hunter Pence.
At a glance, Puig has the best numbers of any of these players, but again it’s only been a limited sample. For the entire first half, Freeman or Gonzalez really deserve the nod.
Puig, though, has all the popularity right now, so it would not surprise me one bit to see him win that final vote. Philadelphia Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon said it would be “an absolute joke” if Puig made the team via Bochy’s selections, but now it’s up to the fans to decide.
If Puig keeps up the pace he’s on even to some extent, he will likely play in plenty of All-Star Games. But even so, many fans want to see him right now.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark recently wrote column of a potential compromise for the Puig situation. He said that each league should have a “Rising Star” spot on the All-Star team for a breakout player who maybe hasn’t played a full first half but that the fans want to see.
Rather than take up a spot from a veteran -- which is a concern in Puig’s case -- there would be an additional fan vote on the ballot. Fans could see their favorite young stars, and everybody would be happy.
Since the game counts, it is the responsibility of each league’s manager to pick the best team while making sure each team is represented. In terms of talent, Puig is easily one of the best players in the league and thus should be an All-Star.
But with traditional baseball minds still running the show, Puig has not played in enough games as a positional player to warrant an All-Star selection.
Those baseball minds, though, will likely have no say, as it’s tough to imagine a scenario in which Puig does not win the final fan vote.
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