A Quick Thought on Yasiel Puig’s All-Star Candidacy

Jonathan Papelbon had some interesting things to say about Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig‘s All-Star candiacy earlier today on MLB Network Radio.

“To me, it’s an absolute joke. It’s really kind of stupid if you ask me,” Papelbon said on MLB Network Radio, as he had trouble even saying Puig’s name correctly. “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.”

I can completely understand and appreciate a player’s perspective on this. Many players go their entire careers without ever making it onto an All-Star roster. Others come close, but are looked over in favor of other players (like Puig, perhaps). Others routinely make the All-Star team but put in a lot of work to maintain the level of skill necessary to do that.

The All-Star Game, however, is famously about the fans. Everything about it, from the All-Star balloting, to the live selection show on TV, to the Home Run Derby, to the Futures Game and Celebrity Softball Game, to the 30-minute pre-All-Star Game festivities — none of it is for the players, but for the fans. In the past, the All-Star Game was designed to give fans of a team in one league to see the best players the other league has to offer, since they played so rarely. Now, with interleague play, MLB.tv, and a plethora of channels showing games and highlights, fans are well versed when it comes to players on other rosters, but the interest in the All-Star Game remains.

Ultimately, the only thing that should matter is “what do the fans want?” Would they rather see Cuban superstar Yasiel Puig, or Hunter Pence? Which player is more likely to make a positive impression on fans and leave them coming back for more — Puig, or Allen Craig? Which player can bring in fans of an underserved demographic — Puig, or Jay Bruce?

With various changes to the selection process in recent years, Major League Baseball has tried to merge the two aspects of the All-Star Game, popularity, and merit. Puig represents a rare and interesting case that has yet to be properly addressed. Perhaps an explicit playing time qualification will be added to the rules in future years, but for now, Puig satisfies the criteria based on popularity and merit and as such should end up on the National League All-Star roster, whether Papelbon likes it or not.

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27 comments

  1. Pencilfish

    July 02, 2013 05:56 PM

    “Puig satisfies the criteria based on popularity and merit”

    I understand the popularity part in that fans want to see Puig in the ASG. How does Puig satisfy the criteria for merit with 107 PA’s?!

  2. WayneKerrins

    July 02, 2013 06:16 PM

    You lost me at Papelbon.

  3. Old Enough

    July 02, 2013 07:31 PM

    In 1975 a rookie played in the All Star game for the American League. He had a pretty good year that season, picking up MVP and ROY. I remember that there was some controversy about his selection, too. Most of the gripes came from Yankees fans as Fred Lynn was a Red Sox player. Puig could surpass him.

  4. Ajay

    July 02, 2013 09:40 PM

    The difference is that all RPs face a small number of batters. Papelbon is no different in that regard. Puig’s 107 PAs compared to other players at his position is not enough to warrant “merit”.

  5. Larry

    July 02, 2013 10:14 PM

    Speaking of the All-star game, at age 41 Raul Ibanez has 20 home runs, one less than Dom Brown, with around 75 less at bats than Dom Brown. It would be nice to see a former Phillie fan favorite to make it at fkn 41 years old.

    @BB
    I agree it would be entertaining to see Puig get voted in, but it’s really not fair to the other guys. Home field advantage is on the line in the world series unless the rules changed. With limited at bats maybe Puig is just a flash in the pan, but I doubt it. I think he has a bright future if healthy.

  6. Scott G

    July 02, 2013 10:25 PM

    I agree Puig doesn’t have a big sample size, but multiple seasons of players’ pasts should be completely irrelevant to this year’s All-Star game even though it usually does come into play.

  7. Phillie697

    July 02, 2013 11:14 PM

    Ibanez was a fan favorite? I must have missed that memo.

  8. Phillie697

    July 02, 2013 11:17 PM

    Hey Paps, you know what, if your peers want to make it to the All-Star game, guess what, they can also try to hit like you’re Barry Bonds for a month. Do that and I can assure you your chance of making it to the All-Star game will significantly increase. But that’s the thing tho… You kinda have to do it first.

    What’s that saying? Haters gonna hate.

  9. Phillie697

    July 02, 2013 11:21 PM

    To clarify my point to those of you who might be a bit slow… Puig isn’t being considered seriously by fans because he’s only had 107 PAs in his career. He’s being considered because he had 107 PAs where he hit like he’s freaking Barry Bonds. ANY player hitting like Barry Bonds in the month of June will get serious consideration for the All-Star game. Puig shouldn’t be “punished” just because he’s doing it as a rookie, as opposed to doing it as a 10-year vet. Would anyone be having this issue if, say, Jimmy Rollins turned in a month of June like Puig has and is being voted into the All-Star game? Exactly.

  10. Larry

    July 02, 2013 11:28 PM

    @ Silly697,
    This coming from a guy who was OK with Barry Bonds cheating. The level of cheating Barry did was a disgrace. Who else has a shoe size of 10 1/2 that somehow grows to 13 at age 29? Yes I’m talking down to your level lol

  11. Larry

    July 02, 2013 11:31 PM

    “Ibanez was a fan favorite? I must have missed that memo.”
    By the way silly, is there any Phillies you like besides Cole Hamels?

  12. Phillie697

    July 03, 2013 12:24 AM

    Oh, recent example that one great month will get you into the All-Star game, no matter who you are, rookie, Cuban, random scrub, journeyman, doesn’t matter. Matt Joyce, 2011. I don’t remember you calling that a disgrace, Paps.

  13. Steve

    July 03, 2013 06:23 AM

    If I was a NL player for St. Louis and thought Yasig Puig would give us a better chance of winning, I’d be all for his being on the team. On the other hand, in RF we have three to five excellent players vying for the spots. Cuddyer, Beltran, Parra, Pence and Bruce. Let him join the HR Derby. His body of work, one hot month, doesn’t warrant a spot over any of the above five.

    He’d have a better chance if he was in CF or LF but that’s life. Dominic Brown may make the team on basically one hot month but he was consistent in June and LF is weaker with only Cargo and Marte as the two other top players.

    Bill, comparing anybody to a reliever (other than another RP) and stating this as your basis for why a player merits consideration is weak. Unfortunately, he was brought up too late.

  14. Steve

    July 03, 2013 06:34 AM

    For side discussion, with the silly idea that every player who makes the All-Star team must play when they have placed such importance on the outcome of the game, I don’t understand why a player can not be reinserted into the game once he is removed. And to say this is the way it has always been is silly, they have changed the structure of the All-Star game as they see fit but ham string managers with the silly idea that a player can’t be reused when they take him out for no other reason than “ego.”

    Example, you replace Cargo with DB and have made your team weaker offensively and defensively for the sake of someones ego. Make the rule, a player who is substituted for needs to play the field one inning and have one AB but than the “benched” player made be used again with the same caveat. It would allow you to have your best 8 players on the field at the end of the game. Isn’t that what an All-Star team is supposed to be?

  15. Pencilfish

    July 03, 2013 09:18 AM

    Bill,

    Arent’ pitchers selected by Bruce Bochy? I don’t think it is based on popular vote, so what does Papelbon being an All-Star have to do with the popularity vs. merit argument?

    Puig is not popular. He’s not among the top 15 NL outfielders in the AS balloting. He may end up getting selected as an AS reserve by Bruce Bochy,

    In the end, both Puig and Papelbon may be selected on popularity and merit with Bruce Bochy and his staff, not with the fans. Moot point.

  16. Steve

    July 03, 2013 09:52 AM

    PF, the media says Puig is widely popular by placing him on the ESPN/National Media and in past eras a hot month by a rookie wouldn’t even merit a discussion. Today, we have thousands of blogs and alternative media outlets, do a search on PUIG and be amazed at the number of hits. Media mirrors the populace which mirror’s the media. To say he isn’t “popular” is saying you have your head in the sand. To expect a write in vote to be on the top votes in one month of exposure is not indicative of popularity but of process.

  17. Chris S.

    July 03, 2013 10:02 AM

    If one great month gets you into the All-Star game why is Dom Brown not getting in?!

  18. Richard

    July 03, 2013 10:13 AM

    Brown has an excellent chance of being selected for the team.

    697 – since when did Barry Bonds have a heavily-BABIP-luck influenced month with virtually no walks? (I’m not saying he’s not something special, but he’s nothing like Barry Bonds.)

    And, Scott G your claim that previous years should have no bearing on this year’s all-star game is by no means obvious. I’d much rather have a Mike Schmidt or George Brett with a slow first half than, like, Toby Harrah with a hot first half. Nothing interesting about seen random dudes with hot streaks. Unless we think we’re determining that a changing of the guard is afoot…

  19. Phillie697

    July 03, 2013 10:15 AM

    Chris S.,

    Puig’s month > Dom’s month, and I say that as someone who wants Dom to be in the All-Star game. But Dom also has had two good months, not just one.

  20. Phillie697

    July 03, 2013 10:19 AM

    @Richard,

    I said he hit LIKE he is Barry Bonds, not that he IS Barry Bonds :)

    Although I just looked at Bonds’ Fangraph page again (should have that bookmarked for anytime I want to marvel at something baseball-related… .863 SLG, insane…). His career BABIP was only .285??? Makes me feel slightly better about Dom’s below-average BABIP.

  21. Richard

    July 03, 2013 10:57 AM

    players with high HR/FB rates often have low-ish BABIPs (though Ryan Howard is a marked exception to this)

    Puig’s BABIP is .513… dunno. He was gifted 4 “hits” in Sunday’s game against the Phillies (though he also hit a tracer off of Pettibone’s foot for an out). I know he’s fast and hits the ball hard, but that’s kind of ridiculous.

  22. Phillie697

    July 03, 2013 11:44 AM

    Oh I agree, Puig is not Barry Bonds on his best day, but you can’t argue with .518 wOBA and 245 wRC+. Those are Bondsian.

  23. Jonny5

    July 03, 2013 12:12 PM

    Quick thought?

    “I don’t care about the all star selections, not even a little bit.”

    The all star selection is only second to the GG award in being complete bullsh!t. That is all.

  24. Jeff

    July 04, 2013 09:43 AM

    “Puig is not popular. He’s not among the top 15 NL outfielders in the AS balloting.”

    He’s not on the ballot.

  25. Brian

    July 05, 2013 01:53 PM

    Can we please trade this braindead hick so I don’t have to wish for him to be successful anymore???

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