Yasiel Puig went 0 for 4 in last night’s Dodgers victory. That puts him at .203 since the end of July with a .228 slugging percentage and no homers since then. As slumps go, it’s particularly long and particularly deep.
He’s a good player who, one presumes, will snap out of it soon. But this slump has gone on long enough that it’s creating an interesting interplay between Don Mattingly and the media. Yesterday we saw Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times call for Puig to be benched in favor of Andre Ethier. Check out these two passages from Bill Shaikin’s story on this from late last night. First Shaikin’s view:
The Dodgers have options beyond Puig in center field. Certainly, Puig offers a potential offensive bonanza that Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke and rookie Joc Pederson do not.
Then Mattingly’s comments:
“I don’t know that we necessarily have a better option,” Mattingly said. “You may say Joc. We think Joc is going to be a great player in the future, but it’s not like you bring a kid up and throw him in there and say, ‘You’re better than this guy’ without him having proven anything yet.”
Follow that up with Shaikin’s reporting:
No teammate has called out Puig publicly, but several Dodgers players have wondered privately how a player in such a prolonged slump can continue to show up to the ballpark too late to get in extra work before batting practice, and how long a leash management might continue to afford him, even with his unquestioned talent.
It’s pretty fascinating. The manager says he has no better options, but the press is pushing back. Here Shaikin is careful not say the options are better in the way Dilbeck did, but there is certainly a drumbeat building to bench Puig.
If the Dodgers had a bigger lead in the NL West I’d probably sit him down a bit simply to rest him and let him clear his head. But they don’t have that. And I can’t get around the notion that, slump or no slump, on any given night he is the most talented hitter on that team, and the whole point of the game is to put your most talented players out there to give yourself the best chance to win.