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Puig for MVP?

Yasiel Puig Dodgers MVP

PUIG

During his remarkable rookie run in 2013 many wondered if Yasiel Puig should have been an MVP candidate. The Dodgers amazing run of play, in which they won 50 of 70 games, coincided with the promotion of Puig to the big league roster. His incredible talent, enthusiasm and fire was a major catalyst in the Dodgers run, along with the performance of Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers elite pitching staff. Puig eventually cooled down towards the end of the season, but his performance was one of the biggest stories in all of baseball.

During the offseason and spring training the big stories about Puig was related to off the field issues like traffic offenses and the amazing story of his exit from Cuba. For all of the success Puig was having on the field there were still question marks about how the young star approaches the game, his tendency for make errors on the base paths and his approach to the game. When the Dodgers opened the season in Australia first baseman Adrian Gonzalez purportedly took Puig aside to challenge him to improve multiple areas of his game. Some of the indiscretions of Puig, led some baseball analysts to question whether or not Puig would continue his ascension to superstardom.

Dodgers Puig MVP

PUIG

Well, what a difference a month makes. Six weeks into the season Puig is arguably the best player in the National League, with numbers that rival those put together by fellow Southern California star Mike Trout during his first two seasons. While the Dodgers are in third place and struggling to keep pace with the Giants in the division, Puig is playing like an MVP. His combination of speed and power has ignited the top of the Dodgers lineup, along with second baseman Dee Gordon. Forty-three games into the season Puig has demonstrated better patience at the plate, and is in the midst of a fifteen game hitting streak. Puig leads the Dodgers with a .333 average, 33 runs batted in, a .422 OBP and a tremendous 1.012 OPS. Like a true MVP candidate Puig has shined with runners on base. With runners in scoring position Puig is hitting .408 with 28 RBI. With two outs and runners in scoring position Puig’s average rises to .455 with 18 RBI.

Can Puig win the MVP?

Dodgers Yaseil Puig

MVP?

From a sheer performance standpoint he should be a top candidate. The key is whether or not the Dodgers get out of their early season doldrums. The Dodgers poor record is a bit of a mystery considering the individual position areas have performed well. The bullpen has struggled at times, blowing some late game and extra innings lead, but that should turn around. The Giants have started strong but as spring turns into summer the Dodgers should heat up and make their run towards the top of the National League West.

Puig will have stiff competition from players like Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton and fellow Dodger Adrian Gonzalez. Tulowitzki and Stanton, who have led their respective teams to surprising starts, are the top two candidates so far. The Marlins and Rockies will likely fall back to the pack while the Dodgers should contend. If Puig can continue his impressive numbers he should be right in the thick of the MVP conversation.

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Improved Playoff Bound L.A. Dodgers

Dodgers get Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto

Dodgers get Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto

The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to pull off the blockbuster trade of the season as they recently acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto from the Boston Red Sox, and only had to give up James Loney and four prospects. The Dodgers are currently in the number two spot in the NL West, and only 3 games behind the SF Giants as of Aug. 25. The Dodgers have been in the playoff hunt all year despite having to deal with the injuries to star player Matt Kemp who is hitting .333 with 17 home runs even with the missed time.

Now that the Dodgers have added All-Star first basemen Gonzalez and starting pitcher Beckett, they should become the immediate favorite to overtake the San Francisco Giants and win the NL West. The Dodgers now have possibly one of the best offensives in the National League and have bolstered their pitching staff that already has reigning Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw and solid starters Chris Capuano and Chad Billingsley. Beckett has had a disappointing season for the Sox so far this year, with a 5-11 record with an ERA above 5. Hopefully the change of scenery for Becket helps him relax and play better as it did for infielder Hanley Ramirez who the Dodgers traded for earlier in the year from the Miami Marlins.

The other players involved in the trade that the Dodgers receive, Crawford and Punto, won’t have a significant impact for the Dodgers, Crawford won’t play for the rest of the season and Punto is mainly a defensive skilled infielder. The Dodgers will unfortunately have to pay Crawford’s ridiculously high salary that includes five more seasons and a total of $102.5 million at the beginning of next season. This will hamper their ability to sign players in the future with so much money tied up in current players, but as for their hopes to reach the playoffs this year and in the future, this trade seems like the right thing to do for the Dodgers and should help them make a deep run in the playoffs this season.

The second silver lining for the Dodgers is that they play in the same division as the Padres and Rockies who are both have a winning percentage under .500. The Dodgers have a total of 12 games vs. either of those teams along with six games left vs. the Giants, which could help the Dodgers overtake the number one spot in the West if they are able to win the majority of those games. However, as of now, the Dodgers are not only one spot out of the playoffs for their Division; they are also a game and a half behind the second Wild Card team the St. Louis Cardinals, who the Dodgers get to face four more times this year. Each game in that four game series could be one of the most important games of the season as it could dictate if the Dodgers get a spot in the playoffs or not.