LA Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium

Yasiel Puig leads NL Outfielders in All Star Voting

Yasiel Puig Dodgers MVP
After a massive jump that leaped him from fifth place to first place, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig now leads all National League outfielders in All-Star voting. Aided by an extended Dodgers home stand Puig leapfrogged Charlie Blackmon and Giancarlo Stanton to take over the lead among outfielders for the 2014 All-Star Game, to be held July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis. The increase in vote totals is indicative of the rising popularity of the second year outfielder, who’s improved on his outstanding rookie season with a tremendous sophomore effort. On Tuesday Puig marked the one-year anniversary of his major league debut, where he took the Dodgers and major league baseball by storm to vault Los Angeles to the National League West crown. Like a year ago the Dodgers are hoping for the same kind of resurgence as they have ground to make up in the division. The Dodgers are in second place, a full seven games behind the San Francisco Giants who currently have the top record in baseball. Los Angeles is in a tight battle with the Colorado Rockies, who feature the top overall NL vote getter, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

This season Puig has significantly raised his batting average, on base percentage and OPS, displaying Mike Trout like maturity at the plate. His Cuban exodus story is well documented and his evolution as a player is remarkable considering how little baseball he was able to play for two seasons while trying to leave Cuba. Last season Puig had 36 walks and 97 strikeouts in 432 plate appearances. This season, in just 242 plate appearances Puig already has 27 walks and has struck out just 44 times. Last season there was great debate about whether or not Puig was a worthy all star candidate after spending just six weeks in the big leagues. This season there is no such debate.

Dodgers Yaseil Puig
After a defeat to the Chicago White Sox where they scored just a lone run, the Dodgers continued their offensive struggles. While Puig is putting together an MVP-caliber season the remainder of the Dodgers core, Adrian Gonzalez , Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp, are struggling of late. Dee Gordon, who got off to a tremendous start as the leadoff hitter, is in an extended slump. The club also is missing third baseman Juan Uribe, with Chone Figgins forced to fill in everyday at third base. AJ Ellis, who suffered an ankle sprain in the post- Josh Beckett no-hitter celebration, is also out of the lineup, with Drew Butera batting just .218 as the backup catcher.

The Dodgers have one game remaining on the current home stand before they head off on a ten game road trip that takes them to Colorado, Cincinnati and Arizona. Getting away from Dodger Stadium, where they are just 13-18 on the season, may ignite their year. Over the years Coors Field in Colorado has been a great slump buster for many Dodgers players, and the Dodgers have had their way with the Arizona Diamondbacks lately.

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BY: Chris M.