If this season has shown us anything, it’s that a couple of players, totally different from each other, were able to join a team close to midway into the season and literally ‘rescue’ their club from an almost certain implosion. Of course we’re referring to Alfonso Soriano and Yasiel Puig, both electric ballplayers who can hit for power and steal a base or two. However, their baseball prowess and their coming to the aid of their respective teams at their hour of need is where the similarity ends. While Puig is playing in his rookie season, Soriano is in his 15th, (13 of them full seasons).
With the injury bug biting the Dodgers at the same time that their brand of baseball was at best considered ‘sluggish’, they found themselves in last place, nine games under .500 at 23-32 and 8.5 games out of first behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. With their enormously obscene payroll and huge off-season signings, this is not what the Dodger brass signed up for before the season started.
Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig made his major league debut on June 3, 2013 as the Dodgers found themselves desperate for offense and frantically looking for a way to climb up out of the cellar. Puig had impressed many before the season as he batted a hefty .521 in spring training and so it was only a matter of time before the call-up was made. In his first 8 games he collected 16 hits in 32 at bats. His 44 hits in June was the second most all-time for a rookie in his debut month. Puig also crushed 7 home runs while bating .436 for a month of June he won’t soon forget.
L.A. went from 8.5 games back on June 2nd to 2.5 games out on July 2nd to first place by 3.5 games on August 2nd and Puig was the major factor in the dramatic turnaround. Fast forward to September 1st and the Dodgers now find themselves 25 games over .500 and in first place by a comfortable 10.5 games! Clearly we have seen some of the issues that the organization has had with the feisty youngster, but his raw talent will get him out of plenty of dog houses as his career unfolds.
Now over to the Yankees and their offensive savior, veteran Alfonso Soriano. What an amazing pickup by Brian Cashman and the Yankees! They too not only were experiencing an injury bug but more like the plague! From Jeter to Texieria, A-Rod to Granderson they were one decimated ball club when the deal for Soriano went down. How bad was their offense? When Soriano took his first at-bat as a N.Y. Yankee on July 26th, the Bombers were in the midst of a 28 game streak without a right-handed home run. It was their longest since 1971 according to Elias Sports Bureau.
All the former Yankee and Cubs outfielder did was to tie and set records with his bat. First he tied a MLB record for the most RBIs (18) in a 4-game span with five players including Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Sammy Sosa. According to the New York Yankees, Soriano is the 3rd player to record at least 6 RBIs in consecutive games.
The undrafted Dominican who originally signed with the Yankees in 1998, went on to hit a career setting 11 home runs in the month of August. Like Puig, one cannot even imagine where the Yankees would be if this deal wasn’t made. As this article is being published, the Bronx Bombers are still remarkably in the running for a playoff berth some 3.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics.
Two players: Yasiel Puig and Alfonso Soriano. One a rookie, the other a seasoned pro. Two missions. Two success stories. Two dynamic ball players that are much the same save for their 15 year difference in age and baseball maturity, but both who have helped save the season for their respective teams.