Shockingly, Bill Plashcke’s take on the L.A. Magazine story about Yasiel Puig misses the point


On the one hand, kudos to Bill Plaschke for reading the story about Yasiel Puig from Jesse Katz and L.A. Magazine and acknowledging that maybe there’s a little bit more to Puig than his failure to hit the cutoff man.

On the other hand, it’s interesting that, given all of the harrowing details of Puig’s passage to the United States and the personal threats that he was subjected to along the way, Plaschke makes a point to repeatedly talk about it in terms of how all of that could threaten Dodger Stadium, Dodgers fans and other Dodgers players:

Now that Puig is a multi-millionaire, are the smugglers still involved, and could that involvement one day lead to Dodger Stadium? . . . Could there be revenge involved, and could that one day lead to Dodger Stadium? . . .  Since security issues are best kept secure, the Dodgers are just probably being responsible in not acknowledging what they are doing to protect Puig and everyone — fans and players included — around him . . . One can only hope this season the added security remains, both on the field and in the stands, particularly when Puig is standing alone in right field.

I guess it’s nice that he included threats to Puig himself at the end there. I mean, it’s not all about the danger Plaschke believes Puig represents to law abiding Dodgers fans and teammates.

Of course, more broadly, Plaschke misses the point. While, yes, some danger to Puig is something to be concerned about given what he’s gone through, there was no suggestion in either the L.A. Magazine story or in the history of other Cuban players in the United States that violence and acts of terrorism at the ballpark are a specific concern, let alone any that pose a threat to fans. Rather, it’s about how the player himself had to experience some crazy and scary things and how that both shapes him and shapes others who have to go through that ordeal.

But, of course, to some people, Puig will always be a problem rather than a person, and the basic humanity of the guy at question will be secondary to the dissatisfaction or threat he presents to others, legitimate or otherwise.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

Rob Tringali/Getty Images

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 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.