Guys I have a confession to make, I’m a big Yasiel Puig fan. Okay, okay, okay everyone relax! Before you all start typing up angry tweets at me, I get it, Puig is everything wrong with the modern day baseball player. He’s lazy, disrespectful, thinks he’s way better than he actually is, and is regarded by most as a waste of talent. Puig isn’t the next Mike Trout that much is obvious, but he’s also not “trash” as some fans like to put it. With the Phillies treading water in a hyper-competitive NL East, Puig’s talent AND a bit of his antics might just be what they need to save their season.
As I write this, it’s Saturday July 27th and I’m sitting in a Florida airport about to leave for the Carribbean, so bear with me if some of these stats are slightly outdated. Anyways, here’s what Puig is slashing at this point in the season:
.263 AVG/.312 OBP/.494 SLG
59 RBIs 22 HRs .808 OPS
Nothing too crazy right? Middle of the pack batting average with a low on base percentage doesn’t scream “he’s the missing link” to anyone. However, let’s compare his numbers to some of the other Philly starters. At this very moment Puig has more homers than Hoskins and Harper, more RBIs than Realmuto and Segura, a higher batting average than Bruce and Franco, and would rank 5th in OPS among active players. Whether you like him or not, the stats prove that the Cuban outfielder would easily rank as one of the Phils’ best bats.
If you’ve watched as much Philadelphia baseball this season as I have, you know there’s a glaring issue with our lineup. That issue being the 5 hole. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins like to walk A LOT. Like, a ridiculous amount. Between the two of them they’ve combined for an insane 143 walks. This has put a ton of pressure on our 5 hole hitter to drive in runs, which has primarily been where the struggling JT Realmuto has played. Realmuto is currently batting .242 (24/99) with runners in scoring position, that’s not good. Puig on the other hand is batting .330 (29/88), that’s really good. Slotting Yasiel into that 5th spot behind Bryce and Rhys would not only produce far more runs, but could even take some pressure off JT and help him contribute more.
I’m going to side with the majority on this one:
JT Realmuto is an excellent hitter who is underperforming — this is true.
HOWEVER, in no reality should JT Realmuto hit 5th in a lineup like this. The 5-hole is, ideally, reserved for a slugger (like Jay Bruce.)
Bump JT down.
— Alex Carr (@AlexCarrMLB) July 27, 2019
Glaring issue #2, the outfield. The Phillies outfield is just a complete and utter jumbled mess. We managed to go from Harper, McCutchen, and Odubel, to Harper, Kingery, and a rotation of Roman Quinn/Adam Haseley/Nick Williams. Scott Kingery is NOT an outfielder, and when healthy Jay Bruce should be on the bench as an elite pinch hitter. Grabbing Puig and running him out in left field could at least start to develop SOME sort of much needed consistency in the outfield.
Making a deadline push for Puig isn’t a long-term fix. The 28 year old is in his contract year and is most definitely looking to cash in on his insane marketability this offseason. Similar to Machado and Harper, expect Puig to land a stupid big multi-year deal (I would guess somewhere around the $200-250 million mark). With the Philie’s desperate need for pitching, I highly, highly doubt they shell out even more money towards the corner outfield position, but you never know. If Puig loves his time in Philly, and would be willing to take a paycut of sorts (unlikely), an outfield trio of Harper, Cutch, and Puig would be real scary.
I’d already explored a Puig trade myself earlier in the season, but the idea for this article came to me from Jack Fritz of SportsRadio 94WIP on Twitter (@JackFritz). He mentioned that the Phils have inquired about Reds starting pitcher Tanner Roake, and that a deal for him could potentially include Puig as well. This makes a ton of sense to me, we are seemingly not contenders and stabbing at a few cheap rental options might have to be the play here. It would be a nightmare if we sold the farm for a guy like Marcus Stroman just to miss the playoffs.
Contract year Puig could also be in this deal (shift Harper to left, leave Puig in right and Bruce to the bench when he's back)
Last 36 games for Puig:
.348 AVG/.404 OBP/.682 SLG/1.086 OPS/11 HR
— Jack Fritz (@JackFritzWIP) July 26, 2019
I’m writing this the morning after our Fightin’ Phils got steamrolled 9-2 by the Braves in CBP. Not only does this team need an influx of better talent, but it needs an entire culture change. Although Puig can be a complete asshole, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times states, “(Puig) hassled staffers. He ignored suggestions from coaches. He rejected entreaties from teammates”, the Phillies might just need a bit of that asshole-like behavior. Too many times this season have we seen our players laughing and joking around as we get stomped 10-0.
Yasiel is a leader in his own regard, and a player with more playoff/World Series experience than 90% of our roster combined. He might be the first one to cuss out a coach, but he’ll also be the first one to go to war to protect a teammate. I know I’m probably in the minority here, but for me personally I’ll gladly take on a little bit of crotch-grabbing and tongue-wagging if that means we’d win some more games. Bring me all 6’ 2” and 240lbs of the “Wild Horse”.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 25, 2019
-David Esser via Philly Sports Insider
~image taken from nbcsports.com~