(Getty Images) The ever-outspoken Jonathan Papelbon has some thoughts about rookie Yasiel Puig potentially being an All-Star. Specifically, the Philadelphia Phillies closer thinks that would be “a joke” and an “injustice” to veteran players.
Puig — who had a 3-for-5 night with a homer on Tuesday for the Los Angeles Dodgers — is hitting443/.473/.745 after taking baseball by storm on June 3. He’s played in only 27 games and been to the plate 112 times, but he’s made all those opportunities count. His 44 debut-month hits are second historically to only Joe DiMaggio who had 48 in May 1936. In addition, Puig has hit eight homers, knocked in 17 runs and the Dodgers are 16-11 since his debut.
All this has begged the question: Should Puig be an All-Star? Papelbon, fearless closer that he is, took that issue head on during an interview with MLB Network Radio:
“The guy’s got a month, I don’t even think he’s got a month in the big leagues, and just comparing him to this and that, and saying he’s going to make the all-star team, that’s a joke to me. It’s just really what happens in baseball when… to me it really does an injustice to the veteran players that have been in the game for eight, nine, ten plus years, and it kind of does them an injustice because they’ve worked so hard to stay there.”
Here’s the interview clip in question. Pay close attention to when Papelbon says “Pig, Puig, whatever.”
Puig isn’t even on the All-Star ballot, but he’s been getting write-in support from fans. Realistically, his best chance at getting on the team is through MLB’s Final Vote, which crowns the 34th player on each team through a separate fan vote. That comes after players and the All-Star managers have their say. Rosters will be announced Saturday.
NL All-Star manager Bruce Bochy had previously said he didn’t think Puig’s short time in MLB was enough to warrant a selection. Of course, Puig’s non-stop hit barrage could have changed that. There have only been four games in which Puig didn’t get a hit. Further: In 15 of his 27 games, he’s gotten more than one hit.
It’s worth noting that Papelbon was elected to the All-Star game in his rookie season. The circumstances were a tad different. He got his big-league call-up in the previous season and played a little bit then. In 2006, though, he had 0.59 ERA and 26 saves, pitching 46 innings in 40 games before being named to the All-Star team.
He was one of three rookies who made the team that year. At the time, he said:
“It’s been a wild, wild ride. It’s awesome. It was a very emotional experience to find out that I had made the team. We’re the next crop coming in. This is exciting because it is the starting points of our career.”
At the heart of the Puig All-Star debate is a theme that’s at the core of many debates: ruffling tradition.
(Getty Images) Traditionalists think Puig simply hasn’t shown enough to be considered an All-Star, and that the All-Star Game is an important institution that not just anybody who has played 27 games can sprint into. The other side of the argument says Puig should be an All-Star because he’s the most exciting player in baseball right now, the kind of guy people will turn on their TVs to watch, even if they’re not huge baseball fans. He’s a boost for the game, much as he’s been a boost for the Dodgers.
Here’s one thing to ponder: Justin Upton of the Atlanta Braves would be, at last tally, a starting outfielder in the National League. He’s hit 15 home runs. Not too shabby. However, he hit 12 of those home runs during a hot first month of the season. Since May 1, he’s hit a pretty disappointing229/.342/.323 with only three homers.
You gotta wonder how many people are upset Justin Upton is likely going to be an All-Star this season because of one good month.