Yasiel Knows Baseball: Puig is a better version of Bo and it is not even close. Watch this video of Puig in his 2013 rookie season where he had about 15 defensive web gems in one year. Bo did not have 15 defensive web gems in 8 years with the Royals, White Sox and Angels. I looked up his defensive highlights and could only find 7 plays where he makes a defensive web gem throughout his career. One play involves him making a routine catch then taking 4 steps on the wall like Spiderman. Another was him throwing a strike from left field to first base showing off his arm but the runner was safe. It was pretty difficult to find defensive web gems from Bo. It was not that hard to find them for Puig. In this article I will compare the offensive stats as they exist in the entirety of their careers. Judgement is based on actual numbers and not on potential or favorites. I can’t add or subtract any points for injuries so the best way to do it is offensive production over their full careers. I will look at it from the lens of a statistician to see if Puig lived up to the Bo Jackson hype on the baseball field.
I will admit, I was a huge fan of both. I was a big fan of Puig as a Dodger player because he always played the game aggressively. I was also a huge fan of Bo Jackson with the Raiders. He is the best Raider of all time. I didn’t really watch football until Bo Jackson came into the league and I had to buy his #34 Raider Jersey because he was such an entertaining phenom in both sports. But I must say that I had to write this article because I came across an old article saying “Yasiel Puig is no Bo Jackson, There Will Never be Another”. Bleacher Report wrote this in June of 2013. Do you all remember reading the buzz where the media stated Puig was the next Bo? I remember watching an interview where they asked him if he knew Bo. And of course he had never seen him because they don’t televise Royals Games in Cuba. The buzz was real. I decided to take a look at the numbers and give my opinion on how he has lived up to that Bo Jackson comparison in only 7 years into his Major League career. Bo played a total of 8 years in the league so it is a good time to compare the 2 players.
I read a comment somewhere that tried to dismiss Puig’s effectiveness on the field. As stated, I am a fan of both. So in no way am I biased for one over the other. I like to let the numbers speak for themselves and although, “Bo Knows this and Bo Knows that, but Bo don’t know jack, cuz Bo can’t rap”. Just kidding I had to throw that in because it just came to me from a Tribe Called Quest. In regards to baseball, Bo may have known baseball but Bo did not know baseball like Yasiel knows baseball.
It has nothing to do with favorites as I was a fan of both. Another person said Puig was a cancer that messed with the team chemistry and still another person said Puig was the second coming of Bo Jackson only that he never panned out like Bo and that “Bo Jackson was a far superior baseball player than Puig with a much higher IQ”. Wrong, wrong, & wrong on all levels. Give me a break. Puig is a stud. Love ’em or hate ’em. He plays the game hard. I am not biased because I like him, I am biased because the numbers don’t lie. That man deserves a contract and he will get it. Let me break down why these comments were wrong.
First of all, let’s start with Bo Jackson. Bo Jackson was a power hitter. He won an MVP for an All Star game in 1989, he was a stud on the football field and he had a very memorable marketing campaign for Nike that began with “Bo knows…”. He showed he had all sorts of athleticism on the baseball field. Yes, we know how hard it is to argue with Raider fans but let’s put everything in perspective on a baseball level. Puig has demonstrated far superior skills to Bo Jackson in the MLB in his first 7 years when compared to Bo Jackson’s 8 years in MLB. Puig’s career batting average is .277 compared to Bo Jackson’s .230 career average. Bo Jackson never had a season where he finished with a batting average higher than Yasiel’s career batting average. Yasiel in 7 years has had more human highlight reels than Bo on defense to Bo’s 8 years in the league. Bo had an arm and Puig has an arm. But look at the WAR numbers. In 8 years Bo had a WAR of 8.3. Compare that to Puig’s 18.5 in just seven years. It is not even fair to put them in the same conversation. Perhaps Bo Jackson’s numbers suffered as a result to his injury and that is understandable. Sure the potential was there. But let us not judge on potential. Puig also injured his hip in 2013 and had a serious of injuries in his time with the Dodgers including be cut from the Braves after being found to have Cocid 19 and then opting to sit out the season. Let’s talk about actual numbers. The statistics do not lie. In 7 years Puig only struck out more than 100 times in a season in 3 years. Bo struck out more than 100 times in a season 5 times leading the league one year with 172 k’s in a season where he didn’t even play 162 games.. In 2626 plate appearances he struck out 841 times. Puig has had 3376 plate apperances (about 800 more PA’s) and has only struck out 681 times which is about 160 times less in more opportunities. The one number that Bo beats Puig on is in the home run category. Puig has hit 132 in 7 years vs Bo’s 141 in 8 years. There is no doubt that Puig catches up to that number in his 8th season since he hit 24 in 2019. So if you had to pick one player at the end of their 7th year, imagining they played in the same era, and you had to pick between paying 10 million to one of the 2 players, you would offer it to Puig because it is the only one that makes sense. If you paid 10M to Bo you would be out of job by the last game of the season. Puig made the playoffs every year while with the Dodgers. The comparison is not even fair and I hate to do this to Bo because I was a big fan but even Bo would tap out on this argument.
The next criticism I heard of Puig is that he was a cancer that messed up the team chemistry. If I recall Puig helped the Dodgers to NL West Division Titles from 2013-2018 and helped take us to 2 World Series appearances. Also, I never heard people boo Puig at the stadium. I wasn’ t at every game but the many times I did go, it was all electricity when it was Puig time.
I wish Puig the best in his next team as we know he will help a team compete for a playoff spot. Any GM who is looking for talent to strengthen their outfield at a discount can rest assure that Puig will be bringing it everyday. Does he continue to average that 3.0 WAR number? Time will tell. Keep in mind that Bryce Harper had a WAR number of 3.4 in 2018, and 4.5 in 2019. For far less money you can get Puig. Bryce Harper is the 2nd highest paid player in the MLB and this WAR number reflects that he is overpaid. Surely, some team can pay Puig 10M a year for 5 years for a total of 50M. In reality, for a player with his numbers he should be getting a lot more.
The argument is that he made too many boneheaded mental errors. Errors, physical and mental ones are part of the game but I will share a link that shows Puig shooting down 15 base runners by throwing the baseball right over, and through, the cut off man and making the out. He was criticized harshly by saying that this proved that Puig had a low IQ because it showed that he didn’t protect the trail runner from taking second on the long throw home. The rule is that you always try to get the lead runner if you can. Sure, errors happen sometimes, but sometimes you get the out at home and no one complains. However, if he allows runners to advance a few times, “all of a sudden a player with a low IQ”. Wrong again. Baseball is a mental game. Scouts knew that you could not run on Puig. The league had heard of the Cuban Missile. They knew not to run on him. So do the math. How many runs did he save simply by having that arm and being a trigger happy cannon who would throw all the way to a base. Teams knew not to run on Puig. It was dangerous. How is that for a mental game? So it is possible that a few teams took an extra base on him by him missing the relay but statistically speaking, the amount of runs he saved with assists and with the threat of “don’t run on him” ends up offsetting the advancing runners problem. Statistically speaking all you have to do is look at his WAR numbers. In 7 seasons he has a WAR of 18.5. That is just under 3.00 WAR per year. That is actually pretty good. Compare that to Bo’s 1.0 WAR career average. Bo could hit home runs. No doubt. And he could run. No doubt. But somehow or another Puig has managed to keep up every step of the way in every offensive category and surpassing him in most.
So the question remains: has Puig lived up to the Bo hype? According to all statistics he has definitely kept up with him defensively, and offensively. It is unfortunate that Bo got hurt in football. This ended his football career but it did not end his baseball career. The White Sox signed him for 3 more years and ended his career with the Angel in the year of the strike. Injuries did not end his baseball career. He retired early “because he wanted to spend more time with his family”. For the purpose of this conversation, we will say that Puig, at the young age of 28, has a lot of baseball left in him and he will continue to pad his numbers over the next 4-5 years. You don’t have to love Puig more than Bo, but you have to respect the offensive production. Stats do not lie.