Between Joc Pederson’s debut, Adrian Gonzalez’s fast start to the season, Justin Turner’s breakout, and Clayton Kershaw’s continued dominance, Yasiel Puig has sure seemed to fade from the spotlight this season compared to 2014 or certainly 2013. Sure, he was injured for a while, but maybe now is a good time to get reacquainted with the Dodgers’ mercurial outfielder. From a pricing perspective, DraftKings has seemed to cool on Puig a bit too. Here is his percentage of games priced above $5000 on DK by season:
|Season||Percentage of Games Priced over $5000 on DK|
With that in mind, here are a few of Puig’s stat categories from season to season:
Most of the numbers look pretty similar this year compared to last year, so why is he averaging over a point less per game on DraftKings so far this season?
Well, the one category that was significantly higher in 2014 was stolen bases per game – 11 last year to zero at the time of this writing. He did spend time on the disabled list for a hamstring issue early in the season, so has his speed not fully recovered to previous levels? Hold that thought for a moment.
Puig has an extraordinarily high BABIP this season of .363, but it is actually lower than his career BABIP of .366. This article from FanGraphs attempts to explain Puig’s ability to sustain a high BABIP. I bring this up because, although Puig has had a very high groundball ratio, especially for a power hitter (the FanGraphs article points out his groundball numbers on infield hits from 2014 were in Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve territory), his plus speed allows him to beat many of these out for base hits.
Since Puig’s BABIP, wOBA, and AVG are roughly in line with his numbers from last season, it looks like he has been able to keep the trend up this season. So why ZERO steals? I think that has more to do with the Dodgers’ approach on offense this year compared to last. Here are their team ranks in steals this year and last year:
|Team||Season||MLB Rank in Total Steals|
First to worst! It doesn’t get any more drastic than that. The Dodgers lead the league in HRs by a pretty substantial margin and have just generally been knocking the stitching off of the baseball this season, so my assumption is they don’t feel the need to steal as often this season. I briefly considered the possibility that Puig’s individual numbers were affecting the Dodgers’ numbers as a team, rather than the other way around, but in 2014, Puig personally accounted for 9% of the Dodgers total steals, and even without Puig’s steals last year, they would have ranked second as a team in steals.
Since stolen bases are worth five points on DraftKings, Puig’s .074 steals/per game in 2014 translated to roughly 0.37 DraftKings points per game. It looks like his steals led to an individual increase in runs as well; he averages 0.46 runs per game this year as opposed to 0.62 runs per game last season, despite playing for a Dodgers offense that is near the top of the MLB in runs scored.
So is Puig the same player now as he has been previously? Yes and no. His individual batting stats look similar, if not better, than they did in 2014. Since the Dodgers are a better offense this season, you would think that it would have helped Puig’s fantasy production. His fantasy stats, though, suggest that the removal of stolen bases from his repertoire has been a stronger negative than any positive benefit from being a key member of a top offense. Based on his BABIP/AVG numbers, this doesn’t appear to be injury-related and the Dodgers’ unwillingness to steal bases as a team may be the biggest drain on his DFS value in 2015.