By Ross Newhan
It appears doubtful that Yasiel Puig will make the National League All-Star team.
He can go directly to NL MVP, a more significant accomplishment for Puig and the Dodgers, who have been in full flight since Puig arrived from double A with bat, glove, arm and a joie de vivre that has infected the entire roster.
Of course, what 22 year old wouldn't display a joy of life after finally making good on multiple attempts to shake off the restraints of his Cuban homeland, receive a seven year, $42 million contract from the Dodgers, drive to work in a new Mercedes and capture a national spotlight with some historic numbers through his first five-plus weeks, becoming only the second major player to sustain a .400 average through 100 at bats?
Make no mistake, Puig alone hasn't been responsible for the Dodgers awakening, for their five straight series victories (including the current series against division leading Arizona) and their 14 wins in the last 17 games, but it is his obvious spirit and tangible talent--more than anything--that has seemed to make believers of teammates previously struggling to believe while keeping the cash registers humming in the same merchandise shops where Manny was once king.
Put another way: In my 50 plus years of covering baseball it is difficult to remember a player arriving from the minors with the package of tools that have so dramatically turned around his team's season.
Can the Dodgers maintain the run? Can Puig?
Well, if they do and he does, if you project his eight home runs, 19 RBI and incredible 55 hits in 34 games over the remaining 73 games, if you believe the magic is real, an MVP Award is quite possible, and who will remember that he was sitting in his downtown apartment when they played the All-Star game?