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Should Yasiel Puig be an All-Star?

Posted on July 04, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Yasiel Puig has posted numbers in one month that are comparable to what some All-Stars have done all season.

Yasiel Puig has posted numbers in one month that are comparable to what some All-Stars have done all season.

There seems to be a “old school vs. new school” battle brewing as to whether Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig should be named to the National League All-Star team after just one month of stellar play at the major league level.

The old school argument is predictable and perhaps even a bit tired. Even though Puig has breathed life into the previously dead Dodgers and looked like an All-Star almost every night he has been on the field, he should not be selected to the All-Star game because he hasn’t proven himself even for half a season and therefore would be taking a spot away from someone else who has made their mark over the entire first half of the season.

The new school folks point to his amazing talent, .440 batting average with eight home runs and the 17-11 record of the Dodgers since his arrival as justification that the 2013 All-Star Game would not be complete without him being part of the National League squad.

Generally, I tend to fall on the “old school” side of most baseball arguments. I think the Triple Crown is far more significant than WAR and that pitchers should still be judged as much on their win-loss records and ERAs than on their WHIP.

However, when it comes to whether a player with 28 games of major league experience should be in the All-Star Game, I am not quite as regimented in my thinking.

Now, it was only three years ago when there was a similar ground swell around Washington Nationals pitching sensation Stephen Strasburg.

Should Yasiel Puig be an All-Star?

  • Yes (50%, 3 Votes)
  • No (50%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 6

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If you will recall, Strasburg struck out 14 Pirates in his Major League debut on June 8, 2010 and through five starts in June was 2-2 with a 2.27 ERA and 48 strikeouts. He pitched twice in July before the All-Star break and had a 3-2 record with a 2.32 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 42.2 innings at the break.

There were many who believed that Strasburg deserved to be on the National League All-Star team for some of the same reasons that folks are currently supporting Puig. Strasburg was the biggest news of the 2010 season, made the Nationals suddenly interesting and was showing a level of talent that clearly seemed deserving of being showcased in the All-Star Game.

Strasburg ended up not being chosen to the All-Star squad by National League manager Charlie Manuel. In hindsight, you could likely say that Manuel made the right decision as Strasburg pitched only five times after the All-Star break and finished the season with a 5-3 record, 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. He suffered an arm injury in August and underwent Tommy John surgery.

Now we all know what has transpired with Strasburg since 2010. He returned to make five appearances at the end of the 2011 season and in 2012 was an All-Star before being shelved in the middle of the Nationals’ playoff run because he has reached a pre-determined innings limit.

This season Strasburg has a 4-6 record and 2.24 ERA through 16 starts, but seems unlikely to return to the All-Star Game.

Obviously the biggest difference between the Strasburg situation and that of Puig is that as an everyday player, Puig has been on the field consistently since he joined the Dodgers, rather than pitching every five or six days.

Yet, opponents of the thought of Puig as an All-Star use the same logic as was done with Strasburg, that one month is simply too short of a sample size to determine if someone is deserving of being an All-Star.

What I think shoots holes in that theory is the occasional situation where a veteran player has missed time with injury, but is still considered deserving of being an All-Star even if he hasn’t played in significantly more games than Puig.

Though his production isn't much better than Puig despite playing in more games, no one is questioning if Bryce Harper should be an All-Star.

Though his production isn’t much better than Puig despite playing in more games, no one is questioning if Bryce Harper should be an All-Star.

Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals is currently among the leading vote getters for the National League outfield starting spots despite having played in only 47 games this season due to injury. In those 47 games, Harper is hitting .272 with 13 home runs and 24 RBI (Puig has eight homers and 18 RBI with a .440 average in 28 games). Yet, I have heard no outcry that Harper isn’t deserving of being a starter for the National League.

It is likely that if Puig had made his debut a month earlier and was putting up similar numbers, there would be no decenters to him representing the National League in the All-Star Game. Last season Harper made his Major League debut on April 28 and was named to the All-Star team after hitting .282 with seven home runs and 25 RBI in 63 games.

Looking at the numbers Harper posted to be an All-Star last year, it seems interesting that the only one that is significantly higher than what Puig has posted in 2013 is the number of games played. Puig’s batting average is nearly 160 points better and his home run total is above what Harper posted in 35 more games.

Those who argue against Puig say he hasn’t performed enough to warrant selection, yet in just 28 games, he has out-performed Bryce Harper this season and his numbers out-perform those Harper posted a year ago.

But Harper isn’t the only potential All-Star that hasn’t significantly out-performed Puig this season. Because of the rule that there has to be an All-Star from every team, you can pretty much bet that there will be at least one other player on the team whose statistics for the entire season aren’t as good as what Puig has posted in a month.

Having seen the history of NL All-Star manager Bruce Bochy (not to mention the Giants/Dodgers rivalry) it seems unlikely that Puig will be named to the squad through the regular selections. However, it would be a shock if MLB doesn’t include him in the last chance ballot and almost as great a shock if he doesn’t easily win that selection.

Will Yasiel Puig have a long and prosperous Major League career? Obviously no one knows that answer today, but he has been exceptional for the first month of his career and by all accounts seems deserving of being known as a baseball All-Star for 2013.

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