7/8/2013 4:47 P.M. ET
Time to rock the Final Vote for All-Star-worthy Puig
Dodgers rookie sensation should be clear-cut favorite to represent National League
By Meggie Zahneis / MLB.com
So, I heard there's some controversy over the All-Star Game rosters.
Or, more specifically, who should be added to the National League roster via the Final Vote. One man: Yasiel Puig.
Controversy is normal. Controversy is OK -- I'd even venture to say it's a good thing. Nothing like a popularity contest bloodbath (remember, I'm in high school) to spark debate among baseball fans.
So, Puig. Let's take stock: 2012 Cuban defector signs contract to play in Hollywood for more money than he's ever dreamed of having; is called up to the bigs one year later to replace the injured Carl Crawford; baffles opposing pitchers with a .409/.437/.677 batting line; adds eight homers and 19 RBIs for good measure.
Let's not forget that the guy ignited the struggling Dodgers, becoming the sputtering team's spark plug.
When Puig arrived on the scene, the Dodgers were locked in the NL West cellar with a dismal 23-32 record. Adding a dash of Puig to an offensive mixing bowl that already contained liberal doses of Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier resulted in a 19-13 record.
How Puig stacks up
He's also responsible for "Puigmania," the latest fad to sweep Major League Baseball. Aroldis Chapman, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout all had their moments in the sun. Now the spotlight belongs to the 22-year-old sporting Dodger blue and an infectious grin.
They say Puig hasn't had as much playing time as his peers. That may well be true, but the claim his relative inexperience ought to clear him from contention is absurd.
Let's take a look at MLB's batting average leaders since June 3, the day of Puig's debut. Puig, of course, tops that list. Ben Revere is second, at .368, and he isn't even an All-Star. No. 3, David Wright, has a .352 average, and No. 4 Yadier Molina was batting .345 through Sunday. The list goes on, but by that premise, if No. 24, Joey Votto (batting .293), is an All-Star, shouldn't Puig at least merit consideration?
So, who's on Team Puig? Teammate and fellow Final Vote contestant Adrian Gonzalez, who urged the Dodgers faithful to swing votes for him Puig's way. There's also those behind the 842,915 write-in votes Puig garnered on All-Star ballots.
Opponents of Puig's campaign include Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who said that Puig in the All-Star Game would be a "joke" and an "injustice."
Right, Jonathan -- your WAR (Wins Above Replacement) this year is 1.3. Puig's is 2.4.
Reds manager Dusty Baker isn't jumping on the Puig bandwagon, either.
"I think it's sort of turned into a marketing thing. We [the managers] have a vote. I try to vote not for the names, but who deserves it," Baker said. "There are times I didn't make it because I didn't have a good first half. I wasn't a good first-half player. That's what this is about ... it just kind of looks like a marketing, money thing."
OK, Dusty, but if your Reds crack the World Series, wouldn't home-field advantage be nice? As a fellow writer pointed out, if you want that advantage, you surely want the NL to put its best players on the field.
That means Yasiel Puig needs to be in the Big Apple next Tuesday night.
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.