Many people expected Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig to be voted onto the National League All-Star team, he wasn’t. Instead he was forced into a fan vote for the final spot on the NL All-Star team, competing against Freddie Freeman and four other stars.
So far Freddie Freeman, the first baseman for the Atlanta Braves, actually leads the fan vote for the final spot over Puig. The two men appear to be in a two horse race for the final bid to the All-Star game, however many expected Puig to dominate the vote and cruise into the final roster spot. Freeman leading the way shows the controversial nature of Puig’s candidacy for an All-Star spot despite not even playing two months in the big leagues yet.
A close vote currently, Freeman leads with just a few hours remaining in the voting process.
Yasiel Puig has become a controversial figure in a short time since joining the Major Leagues just over a month ago. Playing in just 34 games, he has lit the box score on fire. Puig is currently batting .394 with 8 home runs and 19 RBIs. His play has sparked a rally by the Dodgers, putting them back in contention for a post season run.
The controversy surrounding Puig’s candidacy is not limited to just pundits and fans, players have also joined the debate. Jonathon Paplebon of the Philadelphia Phillies described his candidacy as an “an absolute joke.” Critics sight a small sample size as their rational for his not being included into the game, however one has to wonder if his antics are what is really dictating their opinion.
If one examined a stat line alone, the numbers between Freeman and Puig show that Puig probably deserves the spot. Batting almost .09 better than Freeman and having just one less home run despite playing only one month of the season show he has been the more elite batter. He also has a .04 advantage in OBP, showing that he is the more patient of the two batters.
One difference between the two is the spotlight they have received. Freeman is having a great season and has shown great consistency so far in his third year in the majors. Puig on the other hand has taken the baseball world by storm and instantly become one of the biggest names in the sport.
Arizona Diamondbacks Starting Pitcher described Puig’s style after their game yesterday “He plays with a lot of arrogance,” Kennedy said.
Puig may be a jerk, he flips his bat, he waits a little longer than he should at the plate after hitting a home run. He even disrespected a Diamondbacks legend while taking batting practice before their game on Monday.
Sports are more exciting when their is a bad guy, just because he has an ego does not mean he is not an All-Star, it just means that people are talking about baseball more than they would be normally. A Tebow-like following and polarization has sprung up around Puig, and appears like it will follow him far into the future.
The All-Star game is about putting on a show for the fans. If you want to have your vote heard in this heated All-Star game debate, you can vote for Freeman, Puig, or any of the other men on the ballot here.
Freeman or Puig, there is one All-Star spot left in the NL and it is up to you to decide who takes the field.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express