Yasiel Puig struggling after hot start to season

After a hot start to the season, Yasiel Puig has cooled off — considerably.

Through the season’s first 10 games, he was hitting .405/.500/.622 with an 11.4 walk and 13.6 strikeout percentage. We know that wasn’t sustainable, but he has fallen quite hard in the last 11 games. He’s hitting just .154/.175/.282 with an ugly 1:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.5 BB% and 27.5 K%). Probably a case of arbitrary end points, but he is, no doubt, struggling of late.

What happened? He started getting beat on fastballs. In his first 10 games, he was hitting .539 against fastballs (7-for-13). In the last 11, .063 (1-for-16). That’s a big reason for his dip in production.

Puig is at his best when he’s going to center and right-center field, ala Matt Kemp in his glory days. On the season, he actually is sporting his lowest opposite field percentage of his career (22 percent). Take a look at his spray chart:

Yasiel Puig spray chart 4.27.16 (2)

 

Lots of purple and yellow on the left side, but not nearly enough on the right side — especially the line drives.

He’s getting beaten low-and-away (mostly with sliders). He has seen most of his pitches low and outside the strike zone this season (26.5 percent) and is hitting just .240 with an average exit velocity of 87.5 MPH. That isn’t surprising. Here it is in visual form.

Yasiel Puig zone profile 4.27.16 (2)

(Thanks to Baseball Savant for the visuals)

His effectiveness against sliders also dipped in the last 11 games, like it did with the fastball.

  • First 10 games: 4-for-8, two doubles, one triple, one home run, two strikeouts
  • Last 11 games: 2-for-9, one double, one home run, three strikeouts

Coincidentally or not, the overall offensive production is down when split into these 10- and 11-game splits. In the first 10 games, the Dodgers averaged 5.2 runs per game. In the last 11, they’re averaging 4.3 runs per game. Obviously, this isn’t all on Puig, but it just goes to show how important he is to the team’s offense.

Breaking news: Baseball players slump. I get it. After such a promising start to the season, I wasn’t expecting a slump this soon. But it’s early and there’s plenty of time for him to iron out the kinks. The best way for him to get back to being highly productive is by choosing better pitches at which to swing. If he can get back to doing that, he will recapture some of his early season success.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.