Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig's rapid ascent to superstardom in just one month has raised several questions about what kind of talent we are looking at for the future. However, the one thing that should not be up for debate is his spot on the 2013 National League All-Star team.
There are going to be some who might frown on Puig—who is hitting .436/.467/.713—playing in an All-Star Game ahead of others who have been doing it on the field for 70 to 80 games.
Puig's incredible month led to some historic accolades, as the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez and MLB's official Twitter account pointed out:
Yet, there seems to be some disconnect between fans and the media alike over what the All-Star Game is supposed to represent. Personally, I have no issue whatsoever putting someone like Puig on the roster.
It should be noted that Puig will either have to be voted onto the team by players or MLB fans through the Final Vote process, as he wasn't on the National League ballot after starting the season in Double-A.
The Chicago Tribune (subscription required) recently ran an article asking the question about Puig being an All-Star with notes from four different writers around the country: David Selig from Baltimore, Phil Rogers from Chicago, Bill Shaikin from Los Angeles and Juan Rodriguez from Miami.
There is no consensus among the four writers, with Selig and Shaikin, who may have a biased opinion working in Los Angeles, saying that Puig should be in the game. Rogers and Rodriguez don't believe he has played enough to be on the team, though Rogers does suggest that Puig should take part in the Home Run Derby.
From my point of view, there are two very clear, logical reasons that Puig should be on the NL All-Star team.
First, the All-Star Game is a marketing event, and Major League Baseball should do all it can to get the biggest stars on the field to promote the game, especially an international star like Puig, who will bring in a worldwide audience.
One reason that baseball appears to have fallen behind the NFL and NBA in the national conscience is because it does a horrible job of marketing its stars to a mainstream audience.
Think of all the commercials you see featuring athletes on a daily basis. Now, think how many of them feature baseball players compared to football or basketball. It's not even close.
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper should be on every billboard or television spot advertising Major League Baseball. Instead, save for a Subway commercial here and there, you have to flip on the MLB Network to see anything.
Second, for all the talk about Puig only playing 26 games so far, how many bad All-Star selections have been made in the history of this game based on a sample size of 70 games?
It happens every year, mostly with relievers, as that is apparently a position that demands multiple roster spots. But just last year, someone thought it was a good idea for Bryan LaHair to be on the NL squad because he had a fluky April with a .390/.471/.780 line and five home runs in 20 games.
For those keeping track, that would be six fewer games than Puig has played as of July 1. And unlike LaHair, who was a 29-year-old journeyman minor leaguer given a chance largely because the Cubs were rebuilding and not spending money, Puig is a player who projects to be, if not a true superstar, an above-average regular for a long time at just 22 years old.
If there is going to be a rash decision made with this year's All-Star roster, wouldn't you rather it be for someone with enough upside that we can look back in a year or two and not laugh at the idea he was ever an All-Star?
Those are the most practical reasons to include Puig on the NL All-Star roster, but there is one other reason to do it: If we are really supposed to believe that this game counts, wouldn't you want Puig's bat in the lineup?
Even with Miguel Cabrera flirting with a Triple Crown again and Chris Davis hitting home runs all over the place, is there a player on the planet hitting better than Puig right now?
Nothing about the way the rosters for the All-Star Game are assembled actually implies that the game matters.
It starts with the ridiculous notion that every team has to have a representative in the game, continues with the number of players who are picked to play and decide not to take part in it and ends with the way the managers try to ensure that every player gets to play—or at least as many as they can get in without leaving themselves anything for extra innings.
If you want this game to actually seem like it counts, Major League Baseball should take the 25 best players from each league to assemble an entire roster and make sure the game is managed in a way that makes the result actually matter to the players.
Since the game is managed and played like an exhibition, are you telling me that there are more than 50 players in Major League Baseball who fans want to see more than Puig right now?
Or more accurately, since MLB continues to expand the size of the rosters for this game, are there really 33 other National League players fans want to see play more than Puig?
When you get right down to it, there is no reasonable defense to keep Puig off the National League All-Star team. The "small-sample size" argument doesn't fit, nor can anyone say there won't be room for him. He would be a huge asset for a team in a game that supposedly counts.
If you want to debate Puig's All-Star candidacy, or anything else baseball, feel free to hit me up on Twitter.
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