Why Papelbon is Wrong on Puig


Jul 2, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (58) reacts after securing the final out against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Philadelphia Phillies won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When Jonathan Papelbon, learned scholar, embracer of liberal values, and all-around awesome guy, takes to the airwaves, fun things happen.

Papelbon’s well-honed ignorance was on full display yesterday on the MLB Radio Network yesterday when he was asked about whether Dodgers’ young sensation Yasiel Puig should make the All-Star team. Papelbon, who could make the roster himself, was not a fan of the idea.

"“To me, it’s an absolute joke,” Papelbon said. “It’s really kind of stupid if you ask me. 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.”"

For the moment, let’s ignore the fact that Jonathan Papelbon couldn’t be bothered to learn how to properly say Yasiel Puig’s name (he called him YASS-ell PIG, for the record), which is a special kind of ignorance and disrespect. Let’s just focus on the guts of Papelbon’s comments, which, to be fair, are valid.

It’s understandable a veteran player may be rankled that a player with only one month of service time in the Majors would be considered for the All-Star team. A guy who has only played just one-third of the season usually isn’t even given scant consideration when compared to players who have played in three times as many games.

But Puig has been so special, and been such a huge story in baseball, it would be a crime if he was not at the Midsummer Classic.

Jul 2, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) in the dugout during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Dodgers won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The All-Star Game is all about the fans. Always has been. The sensation of Yasiel Puig, and the excitement his presence has created for the fans, should be a huge deciding factor. Not only that, his first month has been historic.

After a 3 for 5 night against the Rockies last night, in which he hit yet another home run, Puig is now hitting .443/.473/.745 for an OPS of 1.219, with 8 HRs, 17 RBIs, 21 runs scored in 112 PAs.

If Puig were to get in, he would likely bump one of those veterans that Papelbon was talking about. Which one would go?

With about a week left in the voting, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Upton are the top vote-getters, with Bryce Harper close behind in fourth. If Harper doesn’t get voted in, he may miss out because of the time he’s missed due to injuries this year.

Michael Cuddyer leads the NL in OPS, so he’ll likely be in. Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez is third in OPS and is also having a terrific season, so he’s likely in as well. Domonic Brown‘s huge May propelled him into the All-Star discussion and he’s second in the NL in home runs, so he’s likely in too.

Does Allen Craig get bounced? Hunter Pence? Shin-Soo Choo?

Someone deserving would get bounced from the NL roster for Puig. Maybe it wouldn’t be an outfielder. Maybe someone from a different position would get sacrificed. But that is a sacrifice that, while it would suck for the individual player, would be good for baseball.

The most likely scenario is that Puig will be among the five NL players in the online fan vote for the final NL roster spot. And given the mania that has surrounded Puig, he’ll likely get voted in.

Regardless of how it happens, Yasiel Puig has to be in the All-Star Game.

There are certainly many players who would echo Papelbon’s comments and believe the same thing he does. It’s an understandable position and one that I would agree with under normal circumstances.

But in the case of Yasiel Puig, it’s a position that is wrong for baseball.