10 Most Amazing Moments of Yasiel Puig's Record-Setting Debut Month in MLB
Beginning on June 3, Yasiel Puig burst onto the scene and put together one of the most impressive debut months that we have ever seen.
No player in baseball was as hot as Puig during the month of June, and his insertion into the lineup is a major reason why the Dodgers finished the month 15-11. With his help, the Dodgers might be climbing back into contention in the National League West after the team's first winning month of the season.
While everyone is giddy with excitement as to what's next for the 22-year-old phenom, we'd be remiss if we didn't stop and appreciate what we just witnessed.
Puig's second month as a major league ballplayer kicks off on Tuesday night against the Colorado Rockies, but first join me on a trip down memory lane (albeit a relatively short one), as we take a look back at Puig's incredible first month in the big leagues.
Wins His MLB Debut with His Arm
Nobody was complaining about Yasiel Puig in his major league debut, as the 22-year-old singled in his first at-bat. By the time the Dodgers took the field in the top of the ninth, Puig had gone 2-for-4 and the Dodgers had a 2-1 lead over their division rivals.
After Brandon League issued a one-out walk to Chris Denorfia, Kyle Blanks took a shot deep to right field, forcing Puig to backpedal all the way to the warning track.
He caught the ball and unleashed a ridiculous throw, one that reached first baseman Adrian Gonzalez on the fly and resulted in the first outfield assist of Puig's career when it beat a retreating Denorfia for a game-ending double play.
If you're looking for a throw of the year, this one has to be near the top of the list.
First Career Multi-Home Run Game
A day after making his major league debut, Yasiel Puig decided that it was time to flash some of the power that fans fell in love with during spring training.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, with the Dodgers trailing 5-2, two men on and one out, Puig launched the first pitch that he saw from San Diego starter Clayton Richard 443 feet into the left-center field stands, tying the game at five.
One inning later, Puig was at it again, this time taking San Diego reliever Tyson Ross deep down the right field line for a 379-foot, two-run blast that put the Dodgers on top by a score of 9-6.
He'd finish the night going 3-for-4 with five RBI, breaking a team record that had stood for nearly 60 years:
Yasiel Puig: 1st Dodgers player with 3-RBI game within 1st 2 games of career since 1958 (Dodgers 1st year in LA- Dick Gray)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 5, 2013
Little did we know that he was just getting warmed up.
Puig Leaves Vin Scully Speechless
In the fourth game of Puig's career, he witnessed a terrific pitching duel between a pair of veteran starters, Atlanta's Tim Hudson and Los Angeles' Zack Greinke.
With the Dodgers holding onto a 1-0 lead, Puig stepped to the plate to face Atlanta reliever Cody Gearrin, with one out and the bases loaded.
Gearrin's first pitch was right down the heart of the plate, and Puig made him pay for it, sending the ball 401 feet into the right field stands for the first grand slam of his career.
It's the first time that I can recall hearing Vin Scully, the greatest announcer in the history of announcers, being at a loss for words.
Puig Nails Simmons at Third Base
Atlanta and Los Angeles headed into the fifth inning of Puig's eighth career game in a scoreless tie, one that was quickly broken by Dan Uggla's solo-shot off of Stephen Fife to open the inning.
Fife would strike out B.J. Upton, but then surrender another solo home run, this one to pitcher Kris Medlen, and then a single to shortstop Andrelton Simmons. You started to get the feeling that the game was about to slip away from the Dodgers.
That feeling of dread only intensified when Jason Heyward hit a ground ball single to right field, with Simmons looking to advance from first-to-third on the hit.
Apparently, he didn't see Puig's major league debut.
Puig scooped up the ball and fired a laser to third baseman Luis Cruz, nailing Simmons at the bag and keeping the Braves from potentially blowing the game wide open.
Fife would retire Justin Upton on a ground ball to end the inning.
Gets Hit in the Face, Stays in the Game
Getting hit in the face is never a pleasant experience, especially when it's with a major league pitch travelling 92 miles per hour.
Yet that's exactly what happened to Yasiel Puig in the bottom of the sixth inning against Arizona's Ian Kennedy on June 12.
Somehow, Puig escaped serious injury and, even more amazingly, stayed in the game, putting his batting helmet back on and trotting down to first base after an extended visit from the Dodgers' medical staff.
Say what you will about old-time ballplayers being tougher than the players of today, but don't lump Yasiel Puig in with everyone else.
The guy is tough as nails.
Let's Play Two? No Problem!
Yasiel Puig's first official interleague game was supposed to come against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 18, but mother nature refused to cooperate. She rained the game out and forced the teams to play a day-night doubleheader the following day.
That didn't faze Puig a bit.
He'd step to the plate 10 times in the two games, going 4-for-9 with a double, home run, RBI, stolen base and four runs scored.
Puig was a major reason why the Dodgers were able to split the two-game series with New York.
Finishes the Month on a High Note
As if Yasiel Puig hadn't done enough damage to opposing pitchers in his first month as a major leaguer, he saved the best for last.
In his final game of the month against the Philadelphia Phillies, Puig went 4-for-5 with two runs scored, a pair of stolen bases, two singles, a double and the first triple of his career, missing the cycle by only a home run.
At this point, you'd be foolish to bet against Puig becoming the eighth player in Dodgers history—and the first since Orlando Hudson in 2009—to accomplish the feat.
Highest Batting Average in MLB History for First Month of Career
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Yasiel Puig hit .436 in the month of June, the highest batting average ever posted by a player in his first month of major league action.
When you think about some of the legendary batters in the history of the game, that statement doesn't seem like it should be accurate.
But it is.
Take a look at where Puig's average stands alongside some of the best hitters that the game has ever seen:
To be fair, Carew, Gwynn, Mantle and Williams all made their debuts in the middle of a month, so their numbers are through their 26th career game, the same number of games everyone else on the list played in.
Record-Setting Hit Totals
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Yasiel Puig led major league baseball with 44 hits in the month of June—the second-highest total for a player in his debut month in the history of the game. He trails only Joe DiMaggio, who recorded 48 hits with the New York Yankees in May of 1936.
While Puig failed to break DiMaggio's nearly 80-year-old record, he did break one that stood for 30 years:
With 44 hits, Yasiel Puig has the Los Angeles Dodgers rookie record for most hits in a month.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 30, 2013
The former record holder was Steve Sax, who picked up 43 hits for the Dodgers in August of 1982 en route to winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
With the way Puig is swinging the bat, you've got to like his chances of following Sax's lead.
Joins Joe DiMaggio in Baseball History
We've already touched on the fact that Yasiel Puig finished his debut month with a higher batting average than Joe DiMaggio did, and that DiMaggio still owns the major league record for hits in a debut month.
Now, the two are members of an ultra-exclusive club:
Yesterday, Yasiel Puig joined Joe DiMaggio as the only players in history with at least 40 H and 4 HR in their first calendar month in @MLB.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 30, 2013
It doesn't get much more impressive than that.