Yasiel Puig’s first 60 games as a major leaguer have been very exciting. He’s hitting .370, driven in 27 runs in his first 250 at-bats and the Los Angeles Dodgers have gone from under .500 to a team on pace for 100-plus wins since he arrived in early June.
He’s my National League’s Rookie of the Year, even with all of the outfield blunders and antics that make the eyes of purist roll. He’s good for the game, and if anyone made it through the All-Star Game without falling asleep, his addition would have added spice to very bland fare. He’s good for the Dodgers, good for baseball and hopefully around for a long time.
But this recent groundswell of support for Puig as the National League’s Most Valuable Player is such a reach, even Puig would have to hit a cut-off man to get there. It’s a mixture of hype, romance and Hollywood.
While his batting average remains impressive, Puig’s power numbers since his awesome first week have dropped dramatically. During this once-in-a-century run of 40 wins in 48 games, five other Dodgers have more RBI. Their pitching has been incredible. There is a different hero every night. Puig arrived right at the time the Dodgers jelled. You can say he saved Don Mattingly’s job. But unless his last 40 games are even better than the first 60, he’s not the MVP.
The Pirates are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 1992 and haven’t won a playoff series since their 1979 World Championship. Andrew McCutchen (.312, 68 RBI, 24 SB) is the reason why. Joey Votto is having another killer season in Cincinnati. Even among Puig’s Dodger teammates, look at the season Clayton Kershaw (1.88 ERA) is having. All deserve consideration.
But if Paul Goldschmidt finishes the way he’s played to this point, he is the winner. How many of his 29 homers tied of won games for Arizona? How many of his 93 RBI, with little to no lineup protection much of the season, have kept the Diamondbacks from imploding? Without him, Arizona is fighting the Padres and Giants for the NL West basement. If Aaron Hill can stay hot and keep opponents from automatically pitching around Goldschmidt, he should get pitches to hit — which he will.
When it comes to just playing the game, to handling himself as a player and person with class, to letting his actions do the taking, the 25-year-old Goldschmidt has it all over Puig. That isn’t a reason to make him the MVP, but it counts in my book.
You can call me a homer. (I always wonder why writers in this town always shy away from backing great accomplishments at the risk of being called biased. Never seems to bother writers in other big markets.) But I can’t see how any one player in the National League has had a better season or is more valuable to his team.
I am getting older and more set in my ways; more resistant to change. But I had an open mind prior to Thursday’s unveiling of the new Phoenix Suns uniforms, mostly because I wasn’t a big fan the last time they changed the jerseys in 2001 (especially the orange “Home Depot” model).
I sat. I watched. I immediately started to pine for Home Depot.
The home white jerseys are booooring. The orange sleeved jerseys, while more the fault of Adidas than the Suns themselves, are similarly lousy. The road purple I actually prefer to the most recent road jerseys, but that’s not saying much.
I was hoping the Suns would go the way of many NBA teams and return to their roots. The Warriors brought back the Golden Gate Bridge. The Knicks are back in blue and orange. Even the Washington Wizards went back to their old colors and look. The Suns got a very favorable response when they brought back the Charles Barkley, mid-1990s black and orange jerseys — and ignored it completely during their official makeover. Very disappointing.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.