Cincinnati Reds: Yasiel Puig is essential to ignite this anemic offense

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates a home run during the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on May 12, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates a home run during the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on May 12, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /
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Yasiel Puig started out the season so slow that some fans were wondering why the Cincinnati Reds ever traded for him. He’s been heating up recently and a return to Great American Ball Park might set his bat on fire.

The Cincinnati Reds have had their struggles to begin the 2019 season. The Reds are 6-13 in one-run games and the team’s offense ranks dead-last in batting average. However, Yasiel Puig seemed to have found his stroke out in California. If Puig’s bat matches the energy that he normally brings to each and every game, he could ignite the Reds’ offense during the upcoming home stand.

Yasiel Puig was thought to have been a key piece to this Reds’ offense before the season began. His penchant for gargantuan home runs, bat flips, and a flare for the dramatic was supposed to only have become more grandiose with the hitter friendly confines of Great American Ball Park.

Apparently, Puig didn’t get the memo. No one, aside from José Peraza and Scott Schebler, had a slower start to the 2019 season than Yasiel Puig. While the aforementioned player’s struggles were mighty, Puig’s standing in the league combined with the expectations made his shortcomings stick out more.

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Yasiel Puig did not hit his first home run until the Reds’ 12th game of the season. Say what?! That’s right, it took 12 games for Puig to send one out. Not only that, it wasn’t even a home game for the Reds. Well, technically it was, when the Reds played a two-game series against the Cardinals in Monterrey, Mexico.

In fact, Puig did not hit a home run in front of the Cincinnati crowd until the 20th game of the season when the Cincinnati Reds welcomed the Atlanta Braves to town. Now, let’s not be too hard on Yasiel Puig, who is a slow starter.

To be fair, the schedule makers were very unkind to the Cincinnati Reds in the early going of the 2019 season. Aside from Opening Day, the Reds didn’t play a weekend series at Great American Ball Park until just last week against the San Francisco Giants. That’s more than a month between weekend series.

During that 4-game home stand against the Giants, Puig was a rock star. The powerful right fielder slashed .462/.563/.692 with a home run and 2 RBIs. That is the Yasiel Puig that Reds Country expected to see when Cincinnati made the trade with Los Angeles during the offseason.

Puig, like the rest of the Cincinnati Reds, got a bit cold when the West Coast trip kicked off in Oakland. The Reds didn’t get a hit against Mike Fiers last Tuesday and the 4 runs on Wednesday were not enough, as the A’s took the game on a walk-off during the 13th inning.

Puig showed a little life in his bat during the final game of the Oakland series, but it was the 3-game stint in enemy territory that really got him going again. Against his former rival, the Giants, Puig went 5-for-12 (.416) with 2 homers, and 5 RBIs over the last 3 games.

The Cincinnati Reds need that same Yasiel Puig we’ve seen over the past three games to show up when the team comes home to face the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers in back-to-back three-game sets. With the rough start (1-8) this team had to the season, anything less than a .500 home stand would really sink the Reds chances going forward.

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The next road trip is no picnic either. After a two-game visit to Milwaukee, the Reds head to the North Side of Chicago to play the Cubbies at Wrigley Field. The upcoming home stand gives the Cincinnati Reds a chance to put that ugly start to the season behind them and start playing winning baseball. If Yasiel Puig keeps mashing, he’ll put the Reds in contention to do just that.