The Show: Pace Car Edition

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On this week’s The Show, we took a look at a few guys
having spectacularly good (or bad) seasons and projected their numbers
for the entire year. Despite a slump, is Ian Kinsler on pace to have one of the greatest seasons ever by a second baseman? Can anything stop Chris Davis from obliterating the strikeout mark? Plus some notes about Raul Ibanez (we shot this before the nonsense that erupted this week.

That video can be seen below. Stats are a tad out of date since it was shot on Tuesday, and Roy Halladay has since been injured, so I suppose we jinxed him. Anyway, here are a few more Pace Car notes:

– Despite a rough week, Albert Pujols is on track to put up
this line: .321/.440/.665, 53 HR, 145 RBI, 121 BB, 25 SB, and only 61
Ks. That’d be a career high in homers, ribbies, walks, and steals.

– He might be coming back to earth a bit, but you’d certainly take
22-5, 1.72 ERA, 262/43 K/BB, 254 innings, 14 complete games, and 5
shutouts from Zack Greinke. The last pitcher to go double digits in complete games was Randy Johnson in 1999.

Joel Piniero has factored into the decision for all of
his 12 starts (5-7) and is on pace to go 13-18. No pitcher has won that
many games with 18 or more losses since Jack Morris in 1990 for Detroit, when he finished 15-18. A year later, he was winning the World Series with the Twinkies.

Matt Cain for Comeback Player of the Year? If he keeps up
at this rate, he’ll finish 22-3 with a 2.55 ERA and 159 Ks. The last
two seasons combined he went 15-30 with a 3.70 ERA. A better ERA
certainly helps with the record, but so does good run support (5.66
runs/game). In 2008 that number was 3.12, and in 2007 it was 3.20.

– If I gave you the numbers 47 and 11, and told you that one of those numbers would be David Wright’s
home run total and the other was his stolen base total, what would you
think? (Hint: he is not on pace for 47 bombs.) He’s also on track for
50 doubles, although such a discrepancy between homers and doubles in
not unprecedented. In Major League history, 25 players have hit 11 or
fewer homers and had at least 50 doubles. However, the 47 steals would
put him 3rd all-time on the list of players with at least 50 doubles,
behind Tris Peaker in 1912 and Craig Biggio in 1998.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.