Throughout baseball history, there have been great debates as to the best player at their position during any given era. In the 1950’s, the debate was between Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and the criminally underrated Duke Snider. There was the debate of which pitcher was better – Greg Maddux or Roger Clemens (before the PED allegations). At the same time, there was the shortstop debate between Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Alex Rodriguez.
Now, another possible point of debate appears to be on the verge of occurring, and was highlighted in the Rays weekend series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The debate – which prospect would you rather have, Wil Myers or Yasiel Puig? David Schoenfield of ESPN recently looked into that very topic, comparing both players performances thus far.
Both players have their similarities, yet are vastly different at the same time. Both have burst onto the scene at age 22, both are the same height (6’3) with excellent power potential, deceptive speed and are solid defensively. However, that is where the similarities end. Myers is much quieter, going about his way on the baseball field in a very business like manner. Meanwhile, Puig plays with an enthusiasm and borderline arrogance that can wear the opposition the wrong way, having already incurred the wrath of Dusty Baker and being in the midst of a brawl. He also plays with a careless abandon that could potentially lead to injury down the line, and has already missed some time with injuries this year.
Both players may also end up with different career arcs. While Myers may not have the same ceiling that Puig does, he not likely to have the same basement. After all, for how well Puig started, it was the best start to a career since Jeff Francouer, who is best known for being the worst player in baseball in 2012 and for potentially not even existing. Myers, meanwhile, is highly unlikely to reach the nadir that is Francouer without severe injury.
As it appears presently, Myers may be the safer of the two options, more likely to settle in as a power hitting, middle of the order type of bat. Joe Maddon has been having Myers hit cleanup as of late, and he has responded by producing a .385/.468/.564 batting line with two home runs and nine RBIs in that spot heading into last night’s action. Puig certainly has his merits, and has been compared to a young Vladimir Guerrero.
While it is fun to debate Puig and Myers right now, this may be a debate that stretches on for the next decade. Both players, who happen to both play at the same position, are phenoms that major league teams dream about. While it may be fun to debate which player one would rather have presently, it is going to be even better to watch both players progress over the next few years.