Bullish or Bearish: Yasiel Puig
After taking the league by storm in his 2013 debut, Yasiel Puig has shown nothing to suggest that was more than a fluke. He was solid but not spectacular in 2014, putting up a balanced line including a .296 average, with 16 HRs and 11 SBs, but even that was less than his 2013 despite an extra 200 plate appearances (PA). He flashed for a few small stretches in 2015 and 2016, but battled injuries and the fantasy community has seemingly given up on him.
However, we always need to look past the surface stats to find out how a player is truly performing, so we can get past all the noise created by luck and sample sizes. Doing so, there are a few things the average DFS player may otherwise gloss over.
Yasiel Puig deserves a closer look
Puig’s 10.3% walk rate duplicates his 2014 walk rate where fantasy pundits raved over his underlying numbers, and represent a bounce back from his 2015 and 2016 campaigns where he walked at a less impressive 8.4% and 6.5% respectively. This tells us he is being more selective at the plate, always a positive for DFS hitters, providing a higher floor. Looking at his pop up rate, last year Puig popped up a horrendous 8% of his plate appearance. For reference, league average is about 3.6%. As pop ups represent automatic outs at basically the same rate as strikeouts, his improvement to a much more manageable 4.6% is cause for relief.
His BABIP coming into Saturday’s game is .267, well below league average (about .300) and his career average (.331), suggesting he has been getting unlucky on his batted balls. Supporting this, he has reduced his soft contact percentage to 16.0%, his lowest since that magical rookie year in 2013. His .175 iso is actually in line with career norms, but that could improve considerably with a little less bad luck from his balls in play (BABIP). He currently has 11 HRs and 9 SBs in a mere 252 PAs, which would pace out to an elite 26 HRs and 21 SBs, both career bests, suggesting he has value even IF his balls in play were to continue this incredibly lucky pace, so he has still been lightning in a bottle at worst in 2016.
All this coupled together with a bargain bin price point of $2,900 on Fan Duel is why I’m quite intrigued by Yasiel Puig over the remainder of the season. He has been hitting in the bottom 3rd of the order so you may want to get him vs a left-handed pitcher, or if they just move him up in the order organically, but either way, that’s a lot of upside for the price. For all these reasons,
I am BULLISH on Yasiel Puig.
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