Yasiel Puig, Dodgers demigod, is finally coming back down to earth. Sort of. Since the start of July, Puig has hit *only* .300/.333/.420 in 12 games. This leaves his overall line at .391/.422/.616 in 38 games leading up to the all star break since his debut June 3 (remember the crazy throw to 1B?).
On June 2, the Dodgers were 23-32 and 8.5 games back in the NL west, already.
Today, the Dodgers are back to .500 at 47-47 and only 2.5 games back - right in the thick of things in a tight division race.
Puig has missed a single game (a 1-0 win on July 13), so LA is 23-15 with him in the lineup. That's great! Wow! Puig is the difference maker! A losing team turns into a winning team right away, and the Dodgers will keep this up and streak to the pennant!
Don't get me wrong - Puig has been spectacular to start his major league career, and more than that, he is really fun to watch, especially with those throws from right field. But there is more to the story than just Puig. Over his 38 game span with the Dodgers, it is actually debatable whether or not he has been the most productive player on his own team.
I think it has been easy to forget just how great of a player Hanley Ramirez was, earlier in his career with the Marlins. Over his age 23, 24 and 25 seasons, he averaged .325/.398/.549 with 117 Runs, 41 doubles, 29 home runs, 85 RBIs and 38 SBs (11 CS), for an OPS+ of 145. This from a (I concede below-average) shortstop.
Then he slowly lost it. His age 26 2010 season was great by any other standard, but did not live up to his own. His 2011 and 2012 seasons were plain disappointing. This was supposed to be the prime of the career of a hall of fame player, but instead Ramirez was traded to LA midway through 2012 after going .246/.322/.428 in the first half. He is still just 29 years old.
Ramirez has spent most of the season on the DL. He played 4 games in late April / early May, and returned to the DL. He has been back for good since June 4 (the day after Puig).
In those 35 games, Ramirez has hit .379/.438/.672 and the Dodgers have gone 22-13 in the games he has played.
Let's go over this one more time:
Ramirez has accumulated 2.5 WAR in 39 games; Puig has 2.7 in 38 games.
Regardless of who has actually been the more productive player, this is a wonderful argument for the Dodgers and their fans to be able to have, and every other team should be jealous.
I hate to burst the myth bubble, but Puig has not single-handedly raised this Dodgers team up over the last six weeks - he has had help, particularly from a resurgent Hanley Ramirez. If these two can keep it up for the rest of the summer, it is going to be a fun summer to watch. Although I doubt the Diamondbacks agree.
Note to self: revisit this comparison in September.