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Freddie Freeman Deserves Final All-Star Spot Over Yasiel Puig

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The MLB All-Star game final vote for the National League is coming down, it seems, to two players: Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.

The voting is close, with Freeman holding a slim advantage at the last update. Both players have had excellent seasons thus far, but only one can go (barring injury, this whole exercise may prove moot if the team needs a replacement player). So who is more deserving?

Let's talk about games played. Yasiel Puig doesn't qualify for any of the league-leading stats because he doesn't have nearly enough at-bats. His supporters will tell you that if you extrapolate his numbers over an entire half-season he would warrant an All-Star vote, which is true -- much in the same way that if you extrapolated, say, Zach Duke's one plate appearance over an entire half-season, he should hit cleanup for the All-Star team. You cannot simply dismiss the fact that Puig has only played in 34 games this season. Freddie Freeman, on the other hand, has played in 77 games this season, easily enough to qualify him on the leaderboards. He has been a big part of the Braves' success all year. He has been, quite simply, the best hitter on a far better team than the Dodgers.

The players' statistics are less clear. In his limited playing time, Puig has indeed been impressive. He hits for power and runs well. He is an exciting player to watch. But excitement is hard to quantify. Here are two stat lines:

Player A - 74 G, 101 H, 52 R, 56 RBIs, 61 K, 22 BB

Player B - 77 G, 90 H, 48 R, 56 RBIs, 65 K, 37 BB

They are nearly identical, until you consider that line A is Yasiel Puig's numbers in AA and the majors combined, while line B is Freddie Freeman's numbers, all against major-league pitching. Freeman has put up the same impressive stats, against far superior competition. He also plays a far more difficult position defensively and while his defensive numbers have slipped slightly this season, he has saved many an errant throw from the infield and shows Gold Glove talent at first base.

This really shouldn't be that close of a vote. In a beauty contest, which the final vote is, Puig should win in a walk. He has a better back story (Freeman's parents are Canadian, I doubt they were ever detained in a Coast Guard cutter). He plays in a much larger city, with a larger fan base. He has the support of the national media.

But looking at the standings, it seems that baseball fans across the country have reached the conclusion that at this point, Freddie Freeman is more deserving of an All-Star spot than Yasiel Puig. Either that, or Dodgers fans are too busy reading TMZ or taking pictures of their food to vote.

Joe Thomas was raised and lives within shouting distance of Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. He is the sports editor for The Sting, the student newspaper of Southern Polytechnic State University.

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