Saturday night, Yasiel Puig made a spectacular diving catch to save a perfect game bid for pitcher Rich Hill in just his second career start in LF. The catch was by far his best and most meaningful play all season recently being reunited with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being sent down to the minors and put on the trading block.
Puig burst onto the scene in 2013 as a huge prospect for the Dodgers and immediately proved to be one of the league’s most talented and exciting players to watch in MLB. However, Puig hasn’t reached expectations set for him largely due to his inability to reign in his talent and play within the structure of the game. The Dodgers hoped Puig and his game would mature over time, but his continued antics on and off the field to go along with a poor batting average of .260 this season, meant the organization had to make a change.
The solution?—The Oklahoma City Dodgers. Puig was sent down to the minors when the Dodgers acquired outfielder Josh Reddick from the Oakland Athletics. Although Puig stormed off when he heard the news and failed to report to Oklahoma on time, he eventually complied setting the stage for what he called a humbling experience. Puig proved to have too much power for triple-A pitchers with a batting average .348 in 19 games played and 69 AB.
Although the Dodgers placed Puig on trade waivers in August that were claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers, the two teams could not finalize the trade within the 48-hour deadline. That meant back to the Dodgers for Puig which has been working out well for both sides.
Since Puig’s return, he has been playing his best baseball of the year. On Sept. 2 in his first game back, Puig went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and last Sunday he hit a go-ahead three-run-home-run against the San Diego Padres—his first major league homer since July.
Puig’s improved hitting at the plate and electrifying defense is just what the Dodgers need more of heading into the tail end of the season. There are just 21 games remaining on their schedule and they hold a 4-game lead over the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL.
What makes Puig’s return even better for the Dodgers is that he seems to have genuinely been humbled by his minor league experience. By sacrificing his body to make perfect-game saving catches he is undoubtedly winning back the support of his ball club, teammates, and fans.