Yasiel Puig comes off bench, hits go-ahead homer


Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig was fined Tuesday afternoon for arriving late to Marlins Park and held out of the lineup for Tuesday’s game due to poor recent performance. But none of that could stop this train.

Puig entered as a pinch-hitter Tuesday night in the top of the eighth inning with the score tied 4-4 and promptly hit a solo home run off and over the top of the left-center field wall to put the Dodgers ahead of the Marlins for good; L.A. wound up winning 6-4.

Puig is still learning basic things about the ins and outs of Major League Baseball culture and there are times when his aggressive personality on and off the field has led to trouble, but the kid’s ability and star power can’t be denied.

The 22-year-old Cuban defector is batting .354/.414/.569 with 12 home runs and 48 runs scored through his first 68 big league games. The National League West-leading Dodgers are 48-20 in those 68 games.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

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Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.

But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.

To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).

According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.