Yasiel Puig has quickly taken baseball by storm, but if he wants to keep playing at a high level, the Dodgers need to rein him in.
The 22-year-old outfielder is batting .487 with four home runs and 10 RBI in just 12 games.
But yet after just 12 games, he's already refused to speak to reporters. And there's his role in this epic brawl with the Diamondbacks, in which he strained his shoulder and was forced to miss a game due to the injury:
If that's not enough, his teammates knew that his pugnacious style would get him in trouble. As catcher Tim Federowicz told ESPN: "We knew at some point somebody was going to try to knock [Puig] down." In addition, Mark Saxon of ESPN reported that the Dodgers have been worried about Puig's "showmanship" since spring training.
That's quite the rap sheet for someone who's been in the bigs for just a few weeks.
Everyone knows about Puig's talent. It's remarkable. He has incredible power and has pretty much hit everything—he has a 72 percent contact rate on balls outside of the strike zone. He also has a remarkable arm from right field:
But talent is one thing—sustaining it is another. And while Puig has the makings of a star, he needs to be able to be calm on the field. The more incidents he gets involved in, the more he becomes a target, and soon the Dodgers may not want to deal with him.
And it's not like he's done that much to help the Dodgers. The team is 28-38 and has lost five of its last six. The wheels are quickly falling off. Don Mattingly is on the hot seat, and as Howard Cole of LA Weekly said, "if he can get his club to within a chance to win a ballgame, he can blow it."
Yet Puig is probably the one player who can bring the Dodgers out of the doldrums. But at 8.5 games back of the first-place Diamondbacks, time is running out.
But if his first few weeks in the majors is an indication, Puig won't end up saving the Dodgers. He'll continue to ruffle feathers, and perhaps worse. As Dodgers reliver Paco Rodriguez told ESPN:
Here, you’ve got to be professional, know how to carry yourself and how to act around the older guys. You have to give them their space. He’s kind of wild, all over the place, but you have to understand that’s more of the culture of baseball in Cuba. Once he tones it down a little, you can tell he’s going to be a great player.
The Dodgers may prove to be a bad environment for the fiery Puig. A team in turmoil that is quickly going south is usually a disaster waiting to happen. There's nothing Puig can do.
Besides, the antics seem even worse when it comes from a rookie on a last-place team. Unless the Dodgers can begin to rein Puig in, then he might burn out as quickly as he came in. And with all that talent, it would be a shame.