Whether fans around the country like to admit it or not, there is a sentiment in Major League Baseball that a player hasn't really proven what he can do until succeeding—or failing—under the bright lights of New York City.
Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig made his first trip to the Big Apple this week for a marquee two-game series that got delayed until Wednesday by Mother Nature, though it did give us an extended look at the Cuban star.
Puig's performance on the field was about what we have come to expect. He entered the series hitting .479/.500/.771 with four home runs, 10 RBI and seven runs scored.
He started the day going 2-for-5 with a double and run scored in the first game. Puig did join Mariano Rivera's hit list, however, striking out to end the game and giving the Yankees a 6-4 win.
It was the nightcap that really cemented the 22-year-old's time in New York.
The Dodgers bounced back with a great all-around performance in the 6-0 win. Puig reached base three times with two hits, one hit by pitch and a home run off an Adam Warren slider. It was an opposite-field shot, the fifth homer he's hit since being called up by LA.
That might be the most impressive thing about Puig thus far. Most young players come up trying to pull everything with authority, but Puig has shown a knack for waiting back on the ball to drive it the other way.
All you need to know about how quickly "Puigmania" has caught on is to look at what happened in between the sixth and seventh innings. Puig was standing in the on-deck circle, and a fan came down to ask him for an autograph as the game was going on.
Only in New York.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times had to break the hearts of Yankees fans everywhere who were already envisioning Puig in pinstripes:
Speaking of the Yankees, Puig's 27 hits tie him with Joe DiMaggio and Terry Pendleton for the second most through 15 career games, according to ESPN.
With the Dodgers getting ready to take their act back to the West Coast, Puig ended his East Coast swing with a line of 4-for-9 with a double, home run and two strikeouts. A four-hit day actually lowered his batting average to .474.
There is a growing sentiment that Puig should be part of the All-Star Game next month at Citi Field. And while some might point to the lack of at-bats, Major League Baseball wants to use the game to market itself and its stars to the country.
Right now, there are very few players generating more buzz.
Puig just had his first test of the big city and bright lights, faring as well as we have come to expect from him. We know that he has talent, and his performance right now is seemingly superhuman.
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