Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Believes Trust With Turner Ward Proving Key For Yasiel Puig
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When Yasiel Puig hit his 19th home run of the season his celebration included a bear hug and kiss on the cheek for Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward. The moment was replayed on the video board at Dodger Stadium for all to enjoy.

Puig’s homer came one night after he had a third three-hit game of the season. Puig is batting .256/.329/.472 on the year despite hitting from the bottom of the order — primarily eighth — for much of the season.

It’s a position the 26-year-old had not previously been in during his young career. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has credited Puig for his focus and work ethic, though more recently attributed his success at the plate to a strong relationship with Ward.

“They’re really close, obviously. As the big screen showed everyone,” Roberts said. “They’re very close, intimate. The main thing is there’s the trust.

“Yasiel, huge talent, but the trust is there. He’s really come a long way. You could argue this is his most productive season, and I don’t think there’s a dispute. Turner is a big part of it.”

Puig is on pace to join Duke Snider (six seasons), Raul Mondesi (five), Babe Herman (four), Andre Ethier (three) and Mike Piazza (three) as the only Dodgers to have an on-base plus slugging percentage over .800 three times through his age-26 season.

What’s more, Puig has a .335 wOBA and 108 wRC+ in 96 games this year. He leads in both categories among players with at least 150 plate appearances in the eight-hole. Puig’s 10.1 walk rate would be the second-highest mark of his career, while he’s on pace to set a career low with an 18.4 strikeout percentage.

Simply put, Puig is arguably the best and most productive No. 8 hitter in the Majors. “If you look back at this season right now and what he’s doing across the board, playing defense and production at the plate, you can argue it’s one of his best,” Roberts said.

“He does a lot of things that are positive and help a championship-caliber team.”