Yasiel Puig: “This is a game of entertainment. I don’t play it to offend people.”

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Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been a lightning rod for criticism since making his major league debut on June 3 last season. He has upset several pitchers — along with plenty of writers, commentators, and fans — for flipping a bat. Sometimes on home runs, sometimes not. Puig has also made some fundamental errors defensively and on the bases.

Puig has also been, without question, one of the best players in baseball over the last two seasons. He’s tied with Mike Trout and Chris Davis for the third-best weighted on-base average (wOBA) since the start of 2013 at .412. The league average is .314. His 6.6 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs, is tied for 17th-best with David Wright despite having the lowest amount of playing time among those in the top-20.

Puig doesn’t seem bristled by people who ignore his talents to focus on other details. Via MLB.com’s Paul Hagen:

“It’s my style. It’s the way I’ve played baseball for a long time. I don’t really worry about the other team or what other players think about me, other than our team,” he said. “As far as what other people think, I try to play the game hard and I try to play the game happy. I want to have a good time when I’m playing. This is a game of entertainment. I don’t play it to offend people. But I do have a good time playing the game of baseball.”

Puig made a ridiculous circus catch on Thursday night against the Mets. It’s a catch few outfielders past or present make. He’s fun to watch, and it’s fun to watch him having fun. Many hate the athletes who are clearly in it for the money, but then they turn around and try to ostracize one of the few players who is demonstrably having a good time out there. It’s tough to understand.

MLB fines and suspends Yasiel Puig two games for Tuesday’s incident with Giants

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Major League Baseball has announced that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been fined and suspended two games for his role in Tuesday night’s benches-clearing incident with the Giants.

Puig was upset with himself after fouling off a hittable pitch, tossing his bat up and grabbing it angrily. Catcher Nick Hundley didn’t like Puig’s expression of emotion and had a few words for him. Puig didn’t like what Hundley said and the two got into a shoving match before the benches emptied. Puig was able to get past his teammates attempting to restrain him to smack Hundley across the catcher’s mask. MLB’s press release characterizes Puig’s role as having “incited a bench-clearing incident.”

The Dodgers are off Thursday, Puig would be slated to miss Friday and Saturday’s games. However, Puig is appealing his punishment, which means he can continue to play until the matter is settled.

Hundley was fined but did not receive a suspension. If MLB’s press release were accurate, it would have characterized Hundley, not Puig, of inciting Tuesday’s benches-clearing incident. Puig was upset at no one but himself until Hundley inserted himself into the picture. Of course, this is by no means excusing Puig’s behavior as he should have been fined and suspended. But Hundley should have been suspended as well.