CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

MLB.com Columnist

Matthew Leach

Puig is deserving of All-Star nod

Puig is deserving of All-Star nod

Puig is deserving of All-Star nod

There are arguments against Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig's inclusion on the National League All-Star team. There just aren't many that are especially convincing.

Most of them seem to boil down to something along the lines of: "That's not how it's been done." And that's just not good enough. If you believe Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is a better player, or Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez or Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, so be it. That's your prerogative.

More


But to say Puig shouldn't be there based simply on service time or some nebulous concept of "dues," misses the boat in a big way. To put it another way: Who could possibly not want to see this player, on that stage?

Puig is a sensation for a reason. He's playing great and he's tremendous fun to watch. That sounds an awful lot like the very definition of an All-Star.

Yet the arguments come in, that it's only a month's worth of games, that his time hasn't yet come. The first may have some weight, though it requires some very fine parsing when you look closely. The second is simply an excuse.

After all, take the "not-enough-games" argument just a little farther, not even all the way to its logical conclusion.

For the most part, All-Stars aren't chosen based on career merit. If they were, Evan Longoria would be there. Giancarlo Stanton would be there. No, they're chosen based on who has had the best two months or so.

That's why Brett Cecil, for example, is an All-Star. Cecil has had a brilliant half-season, following several years of promise that outstripped his production. All credit to Cecil for his big year, but if being an All-Star were about doing it over a period of multiple years, Jonathan Papelbon would be an All-Star and Cecil would not.

No, the All-Star Game is pretty clearly about this year. Not even the last 12 months, but this year, dating back to Opening Day.

So there must be a line, somewhere, beyond which a player's partial-season performance "counts" for All-Star consideration. Cecil had faced 171 batters entering Tuesday, and nobody's complaining he hasn't done enough. Puig has 140 plate appearances, and somehow that's deemed to be insufficient.

While we're at it, let's also dispense with the Hanley Ramirez comparisons. Ramirez is a poor defender who has an established level of performance, and his spectacular 2013 isn't it.

Puig is an excellent defender, offering not only additional value thus far this year, but also tactical value within the All-Star Game. It wouldn't be appalling to see Ramirez in the Midsummer Classic, but he offers none of the ancillary benefits that Puig does.

Just as it's been all along, the case here is simple: If the All-Star team is about the show, then there's simply no doubt Puig needs to be there. He's the best show in the game right now.

And if it's about putting together a roster to win a game, then once again, Puig needs to be there. He offers a unique combination of offense, defense and speed on the bases, making him the best asset out of the five Final Vote choices.

Vote him in. The game, and the National League team, will be better for it.

Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less