After a rough 2016 season in which he was nearly traded and eventually demoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City, right fielder Yasiel Puig had a resurgence for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017.
Puig returned to his previous All-Star form, demonstrating maturity both on and off the field as he played Gold Glove-caliber defense, swung the bat well and continued his outstanding work in the Los Angeles community.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on several occasions recognized the strides and growth Puig displayed. With the team in their first week of full-squad workouts, Roberts again spoke highly of Puig.
“I think that if you’re looking at Yasiel as a complete player, he had a very good year,” Roberts said. “He was very consistent and if you break it up into the individual aspect of his game I think defensively he played Gold Glove defense.
“I think on the base running he needs to continue to be mindful of being efficient on the bases. And in the batter’s box, he was very consistent. He had a consistent approach and a plan and as long as he continues to do that he’ll be just fine.”
Puig posted career highs in home runs (28) and RBIs (74) while batting .263/.346/.487 in 152 games. He hit eighth in the lineup for much of the season, although as he continued to produce, Roberts moved Puig up in the order.
Where he’ll bat this season has not yet been determined. “That’s all predicated on how he performs, and I don’t think it should have any bearing on how he performs, where he hits in the lineup,” Roberts said.
“But when you’re looking at our lineup, there’s a lot of good players. So for me, just looking for consistency every time he plays a game, every time he gets in the box. Right now we’re not set anywhere.”
Entering his age-27 season, Puig will look to put together another strong campaign as he will be eligible for salary arbitration this winter. He’s also in some sense auditioning for new representation, though Puig said finding an agent is not something he’s giving much thought to.