Spring Training Is Underway: 2014 Season Preview

February typically marks the beginning of the 2014 baseball campaign. Pitchers and catchers arrive in Arizona for Spring Training with the rest of the crew showing up two weeks later. Currently, our 2014 Dodgers are at Camelback Ranch preparing for this year’s journey to the World Series. As a special treat, Piazza Parlor will do it’s first season preview. We will examine the starting lineup of the 2014 season and give our thoughts and #ANALYSIS. We’ll begin this blogging journey with the number nine spot: right field.

Our examination of right field begins with Cuban phenom, Yasiel Puig. 

2013 numbers: .319/.391/.534, .398 wOBA, 160 wRC+
2014 projected numbers
(Steamer): .290/.360/.502, .371 wOBA, 141 wRC+, .330 BABIP
(Oliver): .292/.362/.512, .376 wOBA, 145 wRC+, .347 BABIP

Yasiel Puig had an incredible rookie season. After beginning in Chattanooga, Puig was called up on June 3rd to bolster the decimated outfield. As you can see from his 2013 numbers, he completely blew away everyone’s expectations. With four everyday outfielders that will be ready more or less around Opening Day, the question on everyone’s mind is, “Who will get the least amount of playing time?” In 2013 Andre Ethier showed his versatility by adequately playing center field while Yasiel Puig played primarily in right. Steamer has Puig starting more games in right field than Ethier. With more playing time comes more plate appearances, which is why we see the dip in his offense. Another reason why we will see a dip in 2014 is because in the 2013 season, Puig’s offense was aided by a ridiculous .383 BABIP. Taking into considering the normalized 2014 BABIP, and roughly the same K%, it’s no surprise that Puig’s averages will dip. Last year, Puig’s strikeout rate was 22.5% and according to Steamer and Oliver, his projected K% is 19.9% and 23.0% respectively.  Now just because Puig’s averages have dipped, that does not mean he is going to be a bust in 2014. He’s projected to have a stellar wOBA and wRC+. Keep in mind, 2014 will be Yasiel Puig’s first full season in the majors and at 22 years old, the wrinkles in his game will eventually iron out.

The biggest detriment to Puig’s numbers in 2013 were the games he played on the road. In 2013, Puig hit .360/.422/.584/1.006 at home, had a .427 wOBA with a 18.6 K%. On the road, Puig was an entirely different player at the plate hitting only .284/.365/.490/.855. His .374 wOBA was hampered by a 25.8% strikeout rate. Now it’s silly to say that Puig was an impotent hitter with those numbers, but those are severe splits. With his 2014 numbers matching his numbers on the road in 2013, the Dodgers offense could be in serious trouble if one of its key assets has the same drastic home vs. road splits from last season.

All in all, 2014 is definitely the season which Puig can really shine and solidify his place in the Dodgers lineup (more so for the naysayers.) The more refined skill set, coupled with a wiser head on shoulders, Puig will add more than just numbers to the Dodgers.

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