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Puig bringing power from bottom of order

Dodgers outfielder slugs 16th homer in win over Royals
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig went with the two-handed bat flip Friday night, which is not something baseball ordinarily expects from a No. 8 hitter.

But as Puig showed again with home run No. 16 in the Dodgers' 4-1 win over Kansas City, he's no ordinary No. 8 hitter.

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LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig went with the two-handed bat flip Friday night, which is not something baseball ordinarily expects from a No. 8 hitter.

But as Puig showed again with home run No. 16 in the Dodgers' 4-1 win over Kansas City, he's no ordinary No. 8 hitter.

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Puig's blast, projected by Statcast™ at 429 feet, left him second on the club in home runs and third in RBIs with 43, two behind Corey Seager and 13 behind Cody Bellinger. He has a .253 average and a .786 OPS. He's not the player he was his first two seasons -- Rookie of the Year runner-up, then an All-Star -- but he might be the most lethal hitter batting eighth, where he has eight of his homers and 30 of his RBIs.

"Combine where he's at in the order and the production, on top of the defensive play, that's a plus player," said manager Dave Roberts.

"He's learned and understood situations, when the pitcher is behind, to be able to take a walk. But if there's a mistake over the plate, he's got 16 homers and driven in a lot of runs. He's on his way to having a really nice season."

Video: KC@LAD: Roberts on Maeda's outing, win over Royals

Puig has been healthy enough to play in 82 of the Dodgers' 88 games, trailing only Seager in at-bats. The only thing keeping him from true every-day status is a .171 average against left-handed pitching.

"I think I'm going to hurt my shoulder going after so many sliders in the dirt," Puig joked. "I'm going to stay patient and use my wrist more and if they go up, maybe I'll hit more home runs."

When Puig struggles against right-handers, it's usually the slider that gives him fits. But the homer he hit off Royals starter Jason Hammel was a slider.

"The slider hung. He threw so many sliders in the dirt, one of them had to be up and I was able to connect with that one," he said.

By contrast to the bottom of the batting order, the top of the order saw Logan Forsythe contribute an RBI single plus two walks. After a start slowed by injuries, he has reached base safely in 11 of his last 12 games, hitting .400 with 14 runs and a .520 on-base percentage.

"There's a consistent approach, an intent every time he steps in the box," Roberts said of Forsythe. "People are quick to look at the average [.250], but Logan has been consistently getting on base for us, even when he was struggling. I like the compete and he's playing very good defense, allowing me to move him around. He's really been a big part of what we've been doing."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasiel Puig