LOS ANGELES -- It is election season, so there is no better time to present your case to the voters.
“From the eye test to the metrics or whatever, he’s playing Gold Glove defense,” Roberts said before Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets. “That’s the respect he has for his teammates. What he is not doing with the bat right now, he’s certainly doing with the glove.”
Puig’s latest highlight-reel play was a diving catch in the second inning Monday night to rob the Mets’ Juan Lagares. But the dazzling play has never been Puig’s issue, it has been the little things like taking good routes to balls, making sensible throws over high-risk ones and hitting the cutoff man.
So do the metrics actually support Roberts’ Gold Glove case for Puig?
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Puig has seven defensive runs saved this season, which is not only second among right fielders, but also fourth among all players.
In one series at Colorado alone in late April, Puig not only threw out Trevor Story at third base almost from the warning track in right field, he also slammed into the right-field wall while making a catch.
But a handful of high-risk, high-reward plays do not make a Gold Glover. There actually is more proof of Puig’s stellar outfield play, though.
Putting his strong arm to good use, Puig already has three assists that did not require a cutoff man. That matches the total he had in 78 games last season.
And according to Baseball Info Solutions, Puig already has seven “Good Fielding Plays.” Think plays that would qualify for the SportsCenter Top 10 (impressive catches, cutting a ball off in the gap to save a base, etc.). In all of 2015, Puig had seven “Good Fielding Plays.”
Selling Puig as a Gold Glover will still take some time. And the dirty little secret about the Gold Glove Award is that it typically goes to somebody who also has been able to hit. The bat is what has been letting Puig down so far.
Puig came roaring out of spring training, going 9-for-18 through his first five games. But he then hit the skids immediately. He needed 12 games to collect his next nine nits, and the next nine hits after that took 13 games.
“He’s not the only one going through the rough patch, but I think for Yasiel it’s the coaching staff working with him every day, all the guys have been positive,” Roberts said. “It’s not easy. Hitting is tough and there is a long way to go but they’re working on mechanics, they’re working on approach.”
In the meantime, Puig has managed to not take his offensive struggles into the field.
“When you’ve got his skill and you’re not performing, then you feel like you’re letting the guys down, but since Day 1 of spring training he’s been all in,” Roberts said. “So now to not perform as far as the numbers and statistics, he’s disappointed because he wants to contribute and he feels that he can help this club offensively. Today he came in and did his early work so he hasn’t wavered from his preparation.”