Recently we published an article about the downfall of Dominic Brown. Brown showed flashes of potential, but Yasiel Puig looked like the real deal, a player set to transform into a superstar. Now, he looks anything but that player. He’s a player that’s going to struggle getting playing time the rest of the season. We’re all left here wondering, what the hell happened to Yasiel Puig?
In 2013 Puig took the baseball world by storm. He played 104 games, slashing .319/.391/.534. He also hit 19 home runs that season. If it weren’t for Marlins’ ace, Jose Fernandez, he would have been a definite Rookie of the Year winner.
His success continued into the next season, as well. His numbers dropped off a bit, slashing .296/.382/.480. He finished the season with an fWAR of 5.3, good enough for 17th among position players. While his power dipped from 2013, there were still plenty of signs to say that Puig was a going to be a very good major league baseball player. But the last two seasons have told a different story.
2015 saw Puig struggle. He only played in 79 games due to injury. He hit a measly .255 with only 11 home runs. This year has told a similar story thus far. He’s hitting .260 with only 7 home runs, far from the player people expected him to be at this time.
So what happened? Well, as previously mentioned, last season, Puig was plagued by a hamstring issue. That no doubt contributed to his lackluster performance, finding himself struggling to get into a rhythm with multiple stints on the disabled list. But this season he’s been healthy and has been just as bad.
Puig has always struggled with strike outs. His career K% is 20.5%, and this year is right around that rate. But this year, he’s walking less, only 18 times, through 81 games. That’s still not the biggest issue, though. That would be his diminishing ability to hit the ball hard. Each season, the percentage of balls classified as being hit hard has dropped. This season it’s only at 29.7%. In 2013 it was 37.5%.
The bottomline is that something is wrong with Yasiel Puig. Maybe pitchers have figured him out, or he just isn’t as good as we thought. His first two seasons, made it seem as if he was that good. And it’s possible to see him get back to that level, he is only 25 after all. But it’s also possible that we’ve seen the best of Yasiel Puig.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs.