After an impressive debut in 2013 as a 22-year old, many expected Puig to be one of the best players in baseball and a key cog of keeper teams in Fantasy Baseball. It hasn’t turned out that way as Puig hasn’t lived up to lofty expectations with the Dodgers and is known more for his bat-flipping, exuberant celebrations and licking his bat.
Puig was rumored to be traded for the last couple of seasons, and he was finally dealt as the Reds acquired him from the Dodgers along with Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and $7 million for Homer Bailey, Jeter Downs, and Josiah Gray.
Puig came to the Dodgers in 2013 and in 104 games, batted .319 with 66 runs, 19 home runs, 42 RBIs and 11 stolen bases and a .925 OPS in 382 at-bats. He didn’t top 20 home runs until 2017 when he hit 28 and looked to be back on track. He batted .263 with 72 runs, 28 home runs, 74RBIs, 15 stolen bases, and an .833 OPS.
Last season, Puig struggled in April last season and went on the disabled list late in the month and returned in early May. Puig batted .267 with 60 runs, 23 home runs, 63 RBIs and 15 stolen bases with an .820 OPS last season in 405 at-bats over 125 games. Puig had 12 home runs and eight stolen bases in 49 games in the second half last season. Over the previous two seasons, Puig slashed .264/.337/.490.
The trade to the Reds is a boost to the Fantasy value of Puig. The Dodgers had a crowded outfield, and Puig wasn’t playing every day last season. He was also hitting at the bottom of the order most of the time. He had 108 at-bats batting seventh and 108 at-bats hitting eighth. Hitting that low is going to limit the counting stats.
Puig will play every day with the Reds and should bat anywhere from the 4-6 spot in a good offense. The change in ballparks is good for Puig, too. The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati was tied for fourth in runs and the best park for home runs, according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors. Dodger Stadium was 26th in runs and 11th for home runs. Puig also gets reunited with former Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward, who was brought in to be the Reds hitting coach in November.
Puig should be drafted as a Top 30 outfielder in 2019. Puig had 28 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 152 games in 2017, and 23 home runs and 15 steals in 125 games last season. Puig is a good bet to have at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bases with the Reds. Puig had career highs with a 38.4 percent hard-hit rate and a 21.3 percent line drive rate last year. The move to Cincinnati for Puig is positive.
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