There are a lot of players in Major League Baseball who you have to love to watch, whether it’s because of their skill (Miguel Cabrera), speed (Billy Hamilton) or personality (David Ortiz).
But who would you pay money to see? Who’s the one player you’d be willing to fork over your hard-earned cash to watch? For Gabe Kapler, it’s a player who doesn’t just have skill or speed or personality. It’s a player who has all three.
“Yasiel Puig – because I’m an emotional guy, and I like when somebody brings out emotion in me,” the Fox Sports MLB analyst said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “Yasiel Puig will make you laugh and make you cry in the same game, and I just love that about him. You are not sure what to expect. You don’t know if he’s gong to throw out a runner from the track. You don’t know if he’s going to launch to a cut-off man, run into two outs, hit three home runs – all of those things are possible on any given night. He’s got the big smile, he’s got the (attitude), the bat flip – although, he’s not my teammate. If he’s my teammate, I might have a different feel about it.”
“But I got to tell you: He’s as exciting as any player I’ve seen come along in the last 25 years. So Yasiel Puig is my answer. I’d pay to go watch him play.”
Puig leads the Dodgers in hits (95), average (.314), OBP (.401) and doubles (21). He also has 11 home runs, 46 RBIs and seven steals.
He’s also, again, one of the main reasons the Dodgers have all but overcome a large deficit in the NL West. Los Angeles (48-39), which trailed San Francisco (47-37) by nine-and-a-half games earlier this year, has gone 17-9 in its last 26 games and trails the Giants by just a half game.
But this race, Kapler said, is far from over.
“Let’s start with a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “Everybody was saying, ‘Well, what’s wrong with the Dodgers?’ And I was just rolling my eyes. This team is so well-constructed top to bottom, starting with that pitching staff one through five (that) will just really eat you up. You’re talking about a group that would see the top of most other rotations, including (Josh) Beckett and (Dan) Haren at the back end with the way they’ve pitched.
“But now,” Kapler continued, “everybody’s saying, ‘What’s wrong with the Giants?’ And I will encourage everybody to once again pump the brakes. This is a very well-constructed team top to bottom. They have great defense in the middle of the infield. They have great top-of-the-rotation starters. Their bullpen struggles a little bit in the back end but they’re righting the ship there. So I have no worries.”
“These are the two teams it’s going to come down to at the end. It’s going to be a very close race. The Dodgers are the better club 1-through-25, and they have the pieces that it takes to go get a No. 1 starter if they want to push Haren into the bullpen. So there’s no doubt in my mind that the Dodgers are the best team in the National League and they have the pieces to go get whoever they want at the deadline.”