n his first major league game, Cuban defector Yasiel Puig showed why the Dodgers doled out a seven-year, $42 million contract to land his enormous rumored, though unproven, talent.
In the ninth inning, with the Dodgers up by one run with one San Diego Padre on base, Puig snared a long fly ball on the warning track and immediately fired a strike to first base to double off the runner and end the game.
On top of that, he also collected two hits in his debut.
Welcome to the big leagues, Yasiel Puig.
Puig's legend has only grown since then and, as a result, he's already being compared to all-time greats. He's said to have as deadly-accurate of an arm as Roberto Clemente, and the athleticism and strength of Bo Jackson.
Though those lofty comparisons may be premature, it's not as if they're unmoored from reality. Puig has done nothing but make highlight reel plays since his first game in the majors.
Over his first nine games, Puig batted an incredible .471 with a ludicrous 1.382 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). For reference, the highest career OPS in baseball history, at 1.16, belongs to Babe Ruth. Only eight players in history have averaged over 1.00 for their careers.
Obviously, nine games is a minuscule sample size, and Puig's numbers will assuredly come down. But to start a career with that kind of production — at an age when most players are still paying their dues and honing their skills in the minors — is astounding.
And consider this: Though Puig has played in just nine of his team's 63 games this year, he's already been worth more wins, in terms of WAR (wins above replacement) than all but three other position players on his entire team.
How has Puig accomplished those remarkable feats? By clubbing home run after home run.
One day after showing off his arm in his MLB debut, Puig gave everyone a look at his much-hyped power, connecting for two home runs and driving in five runs.
Puig wasted no time collecting his third home run, either. Two days after that multi-home run game, he crushed another — this one a grand slam — that left legendary Dodgers announcer and famed conversationalist Vin Scully speechless.
For an encore, Puig then went deep again the next night. That home run, his fourth in his first five games, tied him with Mike Jacobs as the fastest player in baseball history to hit four home runs. His 10 RBIs through his first five games — most of them gathered via his long bombs — were also a record.
It's no surprise, then, that Puig was named National League Player of the Week, just seven days into his major league career, for that historic start.
"It's just crazy stuff every night," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Puig. "Nothing really surprises us anymore."
Need more of proof Puig's jaw-dropping talent? Marvel at this gif of him gunning down a baserunner trying to go first-to-third on a single.
Puig's legend grew again on Tuesday when he took a fastball to the face — yet stayed in the game.
Puig, who defected to America less than a year ago, is even something of an off-field legend. As a minor leaguer, before he'd even arrived in Los Angeles, he infamously earned a traffic ticket for reportedly driving 97 miles per hour.
Puig is undeniably an incredibly gifted athlete with enormous potential. It's way too early to put him on par with Hall of Famers, but what he's done in his first week in baseball is historic and, for Dodgers fans disappointed with their expensive roster's lackluster performance, finally a welcome jolt of excitement in LA.
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