At the end of the 2011 season, Matt Kemp was on the top of the world. He had a season that most players only dream of. Kemp hit .324/.399/.586, with 115 runs, 126 RBI’s, 39 HR’s, and 40 SB. If he didn’t finish 1 HR short of 40, the man would have a legendary status in LA. He was also robbed of a MVP title (which is a regular season award, great work BBWAA) because his team didn’t make the post season. I digress.
Fast forward to spring training 2012. With a .238 AVG, 15 hits and 21 TB, Kemp was having one of his worst spring training performances to date. His 11 RBI and 1 homer in 63 AB was not what fans and the media expected after a fantastic 2011. Clearly not the Matt we all had grown to love. By any regular season indication, Kemp was in a slump.
His 2012 regular season was hampered and cut short by injures. In the months of April and May alone, Kemp had already hammered out 12 homers, however his success was short lived after he suffered a strained hamstring. ¬†One can only imagine the numbers he could have put up with 50+ more games. The numbers looked like this in 106 games; .303/.367/.538, 23 HR, 74 runs, 69 RBI. The only disappointing number by far was his only 9 SB. As I said, he was injured for a decent chunk of the season.
Puig had a 2013 season that as long-time Dodger broadcaster Charlie Stiener noted, “not even Hollywood could write.” In 432 PA, Yasiel hit .319/.391/.534, with 66 runs, 42 RBI’s, 19 HR’s and 11 SB. Not to mention his arm in RF when using his baseball smarts was one of, if not the best in the league. He had 8 assists, 14 PO and 1 DP in only 93 games and only 76 of those were CG. Not to mention he did all of this as a rookie. Steve Lyons called him the “pee pee guy”, for lack of a better term I guess. It meant that you don’t want to leave the game to go to the restroom because anything, mostly spectacular could and most likely would happen when he was at the plate or on the field.
2014 Spring training is upon us, excitingly enough. We are almost ready to hand the reigns over to the 2014 regular season. Where games count, every at bat and play mean something and for the baseball fan, life is ready to resume, as per usual.
All that said, if Puigs 2014 spring training numbers transferred into regular season numbers any Dodger fan would be completely outraged and a bit disappointed. His numbers so far read like a report card you are trying to hide from your parents. In 33 AB, he has no runs, 5 hits, 8 TB, 2 RBI’s and is hitting a heart wrenching, .152/.167/.242. He looks uncomfortable at the plate and the only bright side is his arm, which subsequently¬†may be better than it was in 2013. Though, still a shell of the 2013 regular season Puig.
Officially we are 1 week away from the regular season ¬†and Puig could very well continue on this “slump.” I think baseball as a collective would both love and hate to see this. Fortunately, spring training games count for very little but pride for the players and fans alike. This is the best possible time for Puig to be slumping and I, as a baseball fan couldn’t ask for anymore. While the games feel like they count, they don’t. If Matt Kemps 2012 spring training performance is any indication, fans should not worry about Puig heading into 2014.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy the exhibition games and leave the worrying to the birds. Like the wise word and song of old, remember it is just a game and games are meant to be enjoyed. “Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks, I don’t care if we ever go back. ‘Cause it’s root, root, root for the Home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame. It’s one, two, three strikes your out at the old, ball game!”
Evan O’Brien is a staff writer