A tale of 3-outfielders, 1-a budding superstar, 1-a failing superstar, 1-who was a superstar.
Interesting week watching the Padres, Dodgers and the Washington Nationals.
Tough week for a variety of reasons, if your name is Bryce Harper, Yasiel Puig or Matt Kemp. The Washington Nationals have become a great franchise. The Dodgers are awaiting the arrival of their young star. The Padres seems to be holding on for dear life, hoping their aging veteran can carry them thru tough times.
And tough times for sure.
Bryce Harper, legendary young 40-home run slugger of the Nationals, gets benched. Not hitting at all, a (.200) batting average since mid-April. He was celebrated upon arrival, and was a star in the making from his first day in a Washington uniform. Last year, an MVP season. He’s powerful, strong, fast, passionate. He’s all baseball all the time.
He plays hard, crashes into walls, runs into catchers, never wants to come out of games, is a freakiness fit. And all of a sudden, he can’t hit. He has been nicked up. He plays thru injuries, wants to be on the field every inning every game. Now pitchers are getting him out. He’s frustrated and angry.
If there is such a thing as ‘burnout’ at a young age, might it be Bryce Harper, who has been grinding just over the past four years, since being made Washington’s number 1-pick. He will find himself, but it’s hard to believe anybody could be more passionate than him.
Yasiel Puig. You remember his arrival don’t you. Flashed on the scene four summers ago, coming from Cuba. He was hitting in the .600’s for nearly his first month of the show. Powerful, electric arm in right field, quick wrists, a terror on the bases.
The physical tools are still there, but there is no consistency to his game. He still does not speak English. He has triggered a divided dugout and clubhouse. He still makes base running blunders; still misses cutoff men; still strikes out alot. The strike zone seems to be a mystery to him. His defensive lapses continue. His base running blunders are stunning.
There seems to be no baseball intellect to him at all. The Dodgers keep saying they are working with him, but there isn’t much progress. He still looks like a raw-uncut gem. The maturity factor just seems to be overwhelming his potential to be great, everyday-every game.
Matt Kemp had great seasons in LA, but looks to be half the player now. The Padres seem stuck by a bad Dodgers contract. He plays hard, but he hardly makes plays. He’s staggering in right field right now, and has had a bad week on defense as the Padres season falls apart. And he is hogtied by another bad April that has spilled into May. His first 3-weeks of the season were excellent, since then, it has been a slippery downhill slope.
A contract that pays 21M a year should get you more than (11-for-82) with 22-strikeouts. He’s playing the outfield right now like there are land mines out there.
Bryce Harper will bounce back. No one believes now Puig can be anything more than an enigma. And we remember what Kemp used to be, compared to what he has become in recent years.