It's been a confusing season for Yasiel Puig owners in Fantasy. He was typically drafted in the second or third round prior to this season, but even in the midst of a solid sophomore campaign that has shown signs of progress, it's not clear whether Puig has advanced beyond that status heading into 2015.
Scott White, Adam Aizer and I projected how we see the first round of a hypothetical 2015 draft going on Thursday's edition of Fantasy Baseball Today, and none of us took the plunge to make Puig a first-rounder. In his most recent column, Scott fleshed out what his first two rounds would look like, and he did place Puig in the 14th spot in his projected draft order.
Puig has solidified our confidence in him as a .300 hitter, as he has repeated last season's remarkable feats of a 30-plus percent line drive rate and .340-plus batting average on ground balls. Puig is also literally matching last year's .391 on-base percentage, while increasing his RBI pace. However, those tantalized by his 19 home runs in 104 games in 2013 have to be asking, "Where did the power go?"
The answer is: to center field. Data from Bill Petti's Interactive Spray Chart Tool shows that Puig hasn't become less of a power hitter, but just a different type. As measured by average flyball distance (up slightly from 282.5 to 285.5 feet) and average line drive distance (up from 258.6 to 277.1 feet), Puig has every bit as much power -- and probably more -- than he did as a rookie. He's just directing it more frequenty to center field.
According to FanGraphs.com, Puig has an eye-popping .772 slugging percentage and .350 Isolated Power on balls hit to center. Those marks last season were .681 and .308, respectively. Not surprisingly, Puig has been sacrificing home runs for doubles and triples, as he is on pace to hit 40 doubles and 11 triples.
That trade-off has made Puig the No. 12 outfielder in points leagues so far this year -- and, therefore, essentially a No. 1 outfielder -- but only 16th in Rotisserie leagues. Next season, Puig will still be just 24, and there's time for him to turn some of those deep doubles and triples into homers. There is no need to fear making him your No. 1 outfielder in 2015, and he is certainly worthy of a second-round pick.