Yasiel Puig has hit like crazy since the Dodgers called him up in June, but he was in the midst of a rough patch with three hits in his last 23 at-bats. So, his team benched him for Tuesday's game against the Marlins, coincidentally after word got out that they were unhappy about Puig overthrowing a cutoff man and being thrown out on the bases a little too often.
Puig was also fined for showing up late -- thanks, Miami traffic -- so it wasn't the best Tuesday it could be for the Cuban rookie. That is, until he entered the game in the sixth on a double-switch, and came up in the eighth inning to mash a go-ahead homer on the very first pitch he saw:
Puig has a 1747 OPS with five homers on the first pitch, in the 47 times up he's made contact in that situation -- the rest of the league has an 886 OPS. Maybe don't give him something he can do that with to start any at-bat.
Then again, that pitch was below the knees, so maybe just roll the first pitch to the plate from now on.
Sometimes Puig overthrows the cutoff man because he has the kind of arm Superman would were he an outfielder, and, despite his speed, he's not the best baserunner out there. But the dude can flat-out crush it at the plate, and is hitting .352/.412/.567 with 12 homers in 68 games, most of which the Dodgers have won. The Dodgers recognize this at the same time they recognize that they need to rein him in a bit every now and again and remind him to focus on everything he can be good at, including the little things. That's why, despite what might have been a somewhat punitive benching, they still went to him when they needed him, and it paid off.