Puig at 600
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig is exactly 600 plate appearances into his major league career.

Hate him or love him, there's no denying the results.

Puig has gone 170-for-526 (.323) with 27 home runs, 75 RBI, 87 runs, 15 steals, a 128/55 K/BB and a .949 OPS in those 600 plate appearances.

He's also provided us with innumerable bat flips, laser throws, insane catches and frustrating base-running blunders since he made his debut on June 3, 2013. Baseball is more fun because he's a part of it.

The 23-year-old's advancement as a hitter is evident already.

Whereas Puig chased 38.9 percent of the pitches he saw outside the strike zone as a rookie, 16th-highest in baseball among players with at least 400 plate appearances, the outfielder has shown the ability to spit on junk balls much more frequently this year.

So far, he's swung at 28.5 percent of the pitches he's seen outside the zone.

He's also been more selective on pitches in the zone, taking a hack 71.6 percent of the time instead of 79.6 percent like he did last year.

As a result, his contact rate is way up, from 67.6 percent in 2013 to 73.4 percent this season.

Puig has walked in 11.3 percent of his plate appearances, an increase from 8.3 percent in 2013, and lowered his strikeout rate from 22.5 percent to 18.5 percent.

Puig has also matured as a power hitter, hitting more fly balls (30.7 percent to 35.4 percent), lowering his infield fly-ball rate (10.3 percent to 5.0 percent) and maintaining a similar HR/FB (20 percent in 2014, 21.8 percent in 2013).

The right fielder began displaying improved plate discipline in August last year and had a 46/24 K/BB in his final 220 plate appearances (20.9 percent K rate, 10.9 percent BB rate). His K/BB in his first 212 plate appearances was 51/12 K/BB (24.1 percent K rate, 5.7 percent BB rate).

Puig also hit more fly balls in the second half than he did before the All- Star break.

I still think the right fielder is due for some regression in his batting average on balls in play (BABIP), even though he's now 600 plate appearances in and owns a .382 career BABIP.

Puig's line-drive rate is just 14.2 percent, below the MLB average of 20 percent, and he has hit .386 on grounders this year, which is unsustainable.

He hit .331 on ground balls in 2013, and if he had that average on grounders this year it would result in a 20-point drop in overall batting average, from .333 to .313.

Still, it's clear Puig is going to be a guy who regularly produces a BABIP above the league average of .298 because he hits the ball so hard, whether it's in the air or on the ground, and doesn't often give defenses a chance to make a play on it.

He's a career .339 hitter with 39 extra-base hits on 127 fly balls. There's very little luck involved there, folks.

Puig has made it to 600 plate appearances in his own unique way, with as much swagger as any player since Ken Griffey Jr.

I can't wait to see how the next 600 play out.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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