Takeaways from MLB Week 18
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has largely been a mystery since he made his MLB debut in 2013.
He has flashed unbelievable talent and athleticism that suggests he could be among baseball’s best to play the game. But off-the-field drama, injuries and a questionable work ethic have gotten in the way of that.
This past week, the Dodgers decided he will have to figure it out elsewhere, at least for the time being.
The team demoted him to Triple-A.
But this week saw other players arrive back with MLB clubs and some choose to leave them on their own accord. Who might they be?
Dodgers Demote Yasiel Puig
Though it was speculated throughout the week, the ongoing soap opera featuring Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig hit rock bottom Tuesday.
That’s when the team announced it had sent the enigmatic Puig to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Puig dazzled the baseball world as a rookie in 2013 when he hit .319/.391/.534 and made plays with his arm that gave off the impression he was destined for stardom. The following season, his numbers dipped but still impressed, hitting .296/.382/.480. But hamstring injuries limited him to only 79 games in 2015. His .255/.322/.436 slash line that season was compounded by reports and innuendo that Puig was disliked in the Los Angeles clubhouse, as reported by Yahoo's Jeff Passan among others.
It’s unclear whether Puig has a future in Los Angeles. But given his athleticism and clear ability, it’s likely that some team will take a chance on his talents.
Numerous times a change of scenery has positively affected a player, and that could easily be a possibility for Puig, who clearly has the talent but for some reason fails to put it together.
It would benefit Puig to play for a respected manager such as Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs or Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants. The Cubs, however, don’t need another outfielder, and it’s unlikely the Dodgers would trade him within the division.
Mark Teixeira Announces He Will Retire at the End of the Season
Struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line this season, New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira announced on Friday that he will retire at the end of the 2016 campaign—easily the worst of his 14-year MLB career.
A 2016 season in which Teixeira has hit .198/.287/.340 through Thursday’s games is a blip on an otherwise stellar career that should be among the most celebrated in Yankees history.
In a career that featured stops with the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels and Yankees, Teixeira won three Silver Sluggers and five Gold Gloves. He had nine seasons in which he hit over 30 home runs and drove in over 100 runs during eight different campaigns.
After he signed with the Yankees prior to the 2009 season, Teixeira hit .292. But his average fell off substantially after that. Still, he was able to remain a viable power threat until this season.
For the Yankees, the news is timely. The Yankees were deadline sellers this year and have made it an effort to get younger. Greg Bird, 23, is currently injured but will likely get a shot to fill the void in 2017.
Rangers' Choo Activated, Gives Team Boost in Race
The Texas Rangers may have been the most aggressive team at the trade deadline, acquiring catcher Jonathan Lucroy and designated hitter Carlos Beltran. But in effect, they further added to their lineup on Thursday when the team activated right fielder Shin-Soo Choo from the disabled list.
Injuries have limited Choo, the team’s leadoff hitter, to only 34 games. The Rangers sit in first place in the AL West, largely without his contributions.
But any time a team is successful with a key player injured, that player’s return acts as a de facto midseason acquisition.
Though Choo is only hitting .266 this season, his game is better measured by his on-base percentage, which sits at .373.
Having him at the top of the Texas lineup only helps to further increase the value of Lucroy and Beltran as run producers. Obviously, men need to get on base ahead of them to have more RBI opportunities.
Yankees Officially Became Deadline Sellers
Perhaps trading closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs on July 25 for a haul of prospects was a sign that the Yankees were at least considering selling off MLB assets in an effort to get younger.
But by Monday’s trade deadline it was clear: New York, for the first time in its history, was giving up on a season.
It was the right move, though.
After the team sent Chapman to the Cubs, it traded Andrew Miller, considered the best reliever on the market, to the Cleveland Indians. Then Monday’s trade deadline solidified any doubt as to whether the Yankees were sellers when they traded Carlos Beltran, their best offensive player, to the Texas Rangers. In the latest hours of the deadline, the team also sent starting pitcher Ivan Nova to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
All the moves in their totality infused the Yankees’ organization with some of the most promising young talent in baseball, giving New York one of baseball’s best minor league systems.
It’s a sign that New York recognizes its only way of doing business—outbidding teams for top free agents—is not a solvent strategy in today’s era. The Yankees recognized a need for strong minor league system, whether it be to promote those players to the MLB level or use them as trade chips when they contend in future seasons.
Albert Pujols Joins Elite List of Names
Since signing a megadeal to join the Los Angeles Angels prior to the 2012 season, first baseman Albert Pujols has arguably been disappointment to the Halos.
But still, on Thursday, Pujols found himself on a list of elite names. That’s when he hit his 12th walk-off homer, tying Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Jimmie Fox.
Jim Thome holds the record with 13.
Since the All-Star break, Pujols has looked much more like the player the Angels thought they were getting when they signed him. He is hitting .304/.353/.554 in 20 games since the Midsummer Classic with six homers and 20 RBI.
Pujols' run production is the best it has been since he joined the Angels. He currently has 85 RBI, well on pace to top his best mark with Los Angeles of 105. He drove in that many runs in 2012 and 2014.
But his average still lags at .259.