Former Manager on Yasiel Puig: "He's Adrian Peterson"
Yasiel Puig is no ordinary rookie outfielder.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' star's first week-plus has drawn equal (if not more) attention than the likes of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper in 2012—and rightfully so.
Puig threw a missile to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to double up Chris Denorfia of the San Diego Padres in his first career game, then came back the following night and hit his first two career home runs (one of which was a mammoth 440 feet).
Puig has 17 hits in just 10 games (four home runs, two doubles, 11 singles), has driven in 10 runs and is hitting a ridiculous .486/.514/.886. He's even already been involved in a benches-clearing brawl, been ejected and is day-to-day with a shoulder injury.
Talk about an eventful first 10 games in the bigs.
Matt Martin, Puig's first professional manager from last year's Arizona Fall League, thought the world of him after he first saw the 22-year-old Cuban play. Martin claimed that Puig had better five-tool talent than Matt Kemp, something that would instantly make him one of the top players in the National League.
Martin couldn't find a comparable player from a baseball standpoint, so he chose to instead compare him to a superstar of an entirely different sport—Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings.
"He's Adrian Peterson. That's how much God-given talent he has," claimed Martin.
Peterson, arguably the best running back (and player) in the NFL, is a physical specimen on the football field. He was a machine last season, leading the NFL in rushing (2,097 yards), rushing yards per game (131.1) and yards from scrimmage (2,314).
Opposing teams went into games against Peterson with the sole gameplan of shutting him down—yet, they couldn't. It didn't matter what defensive scheme was thrown at him. Peterson continued to run, falling just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record.
Just 10 games into his career, Puig seems to have that type of talent—though it's unfair to put him on Peterson's level just yet. (I mean, c'mon. They call Peterson "Purple Jesus" for a reason.)
Pitchers don't have all that much of a scouting report yet on Puig. They all know that he loves to swing (just one walk and one hit by pitch in 37 plate appearances), so throwing the ball slightly out of the zone could cause him to chase.
The thing is, Puig also makes good contact. He's struck out just six times in his career. That should prove difficult for pitchers to get around.
Are you buying Puig as Peterson?
Puig also has ridiculous power. Aside from the 440-foot monster, Puig hits the ball hard seemingly every time he makes contact. He can muscle balls into the outfield or into the gaps for extra bases. He started his career in the leadoff spot, but that type of power has pushed him to cleanup duties.
Speaking of the leadoff spot, Puig has the speed necessary to hit there. He hasn't attempted a stolen base yet, but he's a burner. With five-tool skills better than Kemp's (supposedly), we should expect Puig to start showing off his wheels soon enough.
"Puigmania," as the kids are calling it, is in full force in Los Angeles. The Dodgers may still be a last-place team in the National League West, but his great play has brought a new hope to Chavez Ravine.
He may not be on Peterson's level just yet, but he's certainly on his way.
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