It became official Thursday evening that Yasiel Puig finished second to Atlanta Brave’s first baseman Freddie Freeman in the final vote for the NL All-Star team. The MLB All-Star Game will be played on July 16 at Citi Field.
As expected, fans took to the Twittersphere in order to—let me clean this up a little—voice their displeasure for Puig's snubbing.
Most of them made irrational, vulgar and often misspelled statements directed toward Freeman and the Atlanta Braves organization. For instance, a parody account imitating Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti had this to say:
Charming, but let’s get one thing straight; it is a fan vote.
The first-half numbers are certainly there for Puig, as are they for Freeman. What’s the big difference? Puig did not start the year at the big league level, which for some is an argument in Puig’s favor. It makes sense, but a player doesn't receive the full major league experience in just over a month.
Let’s consider Puig’s playing time to be about half of Freeman’s.
Heading into Friday night, Puig has 58 hits in 146 at-bats for an impressive .397 average. Freeman is hitting .313 through 304 at-bats. Puig has 27 runs to Freeman’s 49 (more than half), and he has just one less home run (eight) than Freeman (nine) in 158 less plate appearances. For kicks, let’s note that Puig has stolen five bases and Freeman has none.
So there is clearly statistical evidence to make Puig’s case. However, looking a little closer at the voting system you’ll notice that Puig was already at a disadvantage. Sure he is one of the hottest players in baseball right now, but a teammate of his was on the ballot, too.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is more established with the folks in Chavez Ravine and around the league. Since he was acquired from the Boston Red Sox last season, he has carved a niche for himself in the hearts of Dodgers faithful and may have drawn votes away from the 22-year-old.
Some appear to take it out on the Dodgers fanbase in general:
Well those #VotePuig tweets were a waste of time/tweets. LA couldn't out vote a atlanta 1st baseman. Haha.— HEY HEY PLAYAH (@WstCoast_Johnny) July 12, 2013
I know fans are…well…fanatics. Some rip the All-Star festivities as a waste of time or a silly publicity stunt that could “ruin momentum.” More often you’ll hear the World Series’ home-field advantage complaints rain down from baseball heaven—or is it Iowa?
But even so, fans love to see their club represented by their best on the big stage. Puig has been LA’s best. He beat the likes of San Francisco’s Hunter Pence, Washington’s Ian Desmond and teammate Gonzalez.
Freddie Freeman deserves some credit, here. The guy set a record with 19.7 million votes to earn his first trip to an MLB All-Star Game. He has put up the numbers to earn it and has contributed to the Braves’ first-place standing in the NL East.
Puig and the Dodgers sit 1.5 games behind Arizona for first place but are only 46-45 on the year. On the other hand, they have gone 23-13 since Puig joined the club and have won 16 of their last 19.
Indeed it is, skip, and that’s why Freeman deserves to be in the All-Star Game. This small sample from Puig has been the hottest start to a career MLB has seen, possibly ever. It can’t be discounted what the guy can do because he's shown so much so quickly.
However, he has yet to experience a major league slump and has garnered so much attention pitchers can make necessary adjustments their next time around. He’s a very good ballplayer, but whether or not he can continue this pace over the course of a season remains to be seen.
Let’s hope he proves the voters wrong, because all of baseball would love to see it.