Fantasy Baseball: Do not draft Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig

Drafting Yasiel Puig is not a recipe for success (Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports)

Do not draft Yasiel Puig this year.

Naturally a statement this forceful and broad comes with a few caveats.

If he’s still sitting there in the 12th round, of course you should grab him.  If the bidding is at five bucks and it’s gone once and going twice, by all means go to six  — but while we’re making things up, go ahead and wait on a shortstop so you can pick up that Jose Reyes kid in the eighth.

Yasiel Puig has been going in the second round and you shouldn’t go anywhere near that nonsense.

People are going to remember the great story of that wild Cuban kid who turned around the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2013 season with an epic June (seven bombs, .436 average) and a devil-may-care attitude and childlike love of the game.

Those people will drool at the five tools, pop on their Puig Destroyer record, and waaaay overpay for this guy.

We’re smarter than those people.  We.  Will.  Not.  Draft.  Yasiel.  Puig.  This.  Year.

I’m not going to talk about fast food bingesOr speeding ticketsOr bad attitudes.  Or culture shock.  Or shoulder inflammation.  No, I’m simply going to talk about some of the categories to which Puig will allegedly contribute.

Home Runs

  • Puig puts over 50 percent of his batted balls on the ground.  It’s going to be hard to hit the ball out of the park when you have a hard enough time putting it in the air.  What helped Puig in 2013 was his sky high 21.8% HR/FB ratio last year.  Had he qualified for the batting title that would have put him at sixth in the majors, tied with the Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton.  There’s a serious regression due, one that already began last year (18.6% HR/FB in the second half.)

Stolen Bases

  • Puig was only 11-for-19 on the base paths last year — a pretty lousy 58%.  How often is he going to get a green light running like that?  He actually got worse as the year went on, going 6-for-11 in the second half, and a measly 1-for-2 in the last month of the season.

Batting Average

  • Puig posted a .383 BABIP in 2013, which would have put him third in the majors among qualified batters.  As if that didn’t scream “lucky” enough, he managed that ungodly BABIP with a 19.1% line drive rate, making him one of two players in the top-20 with a line drive rate under 20% (No. 19 Torii).  In fact, you would have to go all the way down to Jean Segura (.326) at No. 38 to find a lower line drive rate, at 18%.

There’s just too much risk and uncertainty to be making a major investment in Yasiel Puig for the 2014 season.  I’m taking a wait and see approach to see if he can strike out less (22.5% last year), be more efficient on the basepaths, and just generally keep up anything resembling his torrid rookie pace for an entire season.  I like Puig, just not nearly as much as the next guy.