Should Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig be on the National League All-Star team? It's one of the more intriguing debates in MLB as All-Star rosters will soon be announced.
Puig is undoubtedly a sensation, looking like a superhero as he crushes the baseball every night and provides the Dodgers with the most excitement they've had all season. He's batting .443 with eight home runs, 17 RBI and a 1.218 OPS. Fans surely want to see him with the sport's best players at Citi Field on July 16.
Yet the Cuban slugger has played only 27 games so far, while most of his MLB peers have logged more than 80 games.
Count Philadelphia Phillies reliever Jonathan Papelbon among those who believe Puig's slim résumé should keep him off the All-Star team. But Papelbon being Papelbon, the Phillies' closer couldn't simply say that. He had to mix in a dash of his trademark brashness to those opinions.
“To me, it’s an absolute joke. It’s really kind of stupid if you ask me.," Papelbon said on MLB Network Radio (via CBS Philly). "The guy’s got a month, I don’t even think he’s got a month in the big leagues, and just comparing him to this and that, and saying he’s going to make the all-star team, that’s a joke to me."
Adding an extra layer of disdain, Papelbon couldn't even pronounce Puig's name correctly, calling him "Peeg" at one point. You can listen for yourself.
Papelbon comes off like a jerk with his comments, of course. It's his default setting. But you might wonder if he's speaking for several MLB veterans who think an upstart with just over 100 big league at-bats deserves to be honored alongside those who have put in multiple years, not to mention played most of this season.
Personally, I feel like Puig shouldn't be on the NL All-Star team either, considering how few games he's played. Between fan voting and NL manager Bruce Bochy's selections, there are definitely eight or more outfielders that deserve a place on the roster. If it was a question of Puig being the Dodgers' lone All-Star representative, then so be it. Yet Clayton Kershaw — and perhaps Adrian Gonzalez or Hyun-Jin Ryu — will likely take care of that.
Ultimately, this argument is probably much ado about nothing. Even if Puig isn't named to the NL All-Star team, what are the chances that he'll be named as an injury replacement when someone decides he'd rather take four days off to rest than play in a meaningless showcase? That's how Bryce Harper got on the team last year.
If the All-Star Game is about what the fans want to see, what best promotes the sport, then the player everyone is talking about these days should be on the roster. People like Papelbon need to remember that.
Despite commissioner Bud Selig's insistence that the game counts, we're ultimately talking about an exhibition, a one-night diversion from the grind of a 162-game season. Puig would absolutely make the All-Star Game more fun and likely draw more viewers, so why shouldn't he be there?