BOSTON -- All eyes were on Yasiel Puig last Saturday at Miller Park, and he loved every second of it. It was showtime in Milwaukee.Puig flipped his bat, danced around first base, flexed his biceps on the basepaths and pretended to shoot a basket at home plate after his three-run
BOSTON -- All eyes were on Yasiel Puig last Saturday at Miller Park, and he loved every second of it. It was showtime in Milwaukee.
Puig flipped his bat, danced around first base, flexed his biceps on the basepaths and pretended to shoot a basket at home plate after his three-run homer in the seventh inning in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. The homer helped the Dodgers secure a 5-1 victory that sent them to the World Series, and it provided Puig another signature moment.
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This wasn't the good Puig. It was the great Puig. The showman, the slugger and the baseball hero, all in one.
And while it's impossible to predict which Puig will show up in the World Series, what's certain is that the Dodgers' biggest personality is back on the biggest stage and you won't be able to take your eyes off him.
"There is certainly a lot of upside with Yasiel. There's a lot of energy," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "There's some recklessness, so my job, the coaches' job, is to continue to embrace it to some extent but also harness it. So, there is a balance, but certainly with Yasiel the net is certainly a positive."
It's been easy to track Puig's movements throughout the years.
The sky-high bat flips on home runs -- and sometimes on singles or doubles -- along with his tongue wagging are just as famous as his laser-like throws from the outfield. Puig being Puig means having the unique ability to exhilarate a fan base with a game-changing feat and then frustrate them with a baserunning gaffe or puzzling effort on defense all in the same game.
"Sometimes, I do my stuff like a kiss or crazy stuff and sometimes people don't like it, but that's the way I play," Puig said. "That's the way I feel good and play better. Every day and in every moment and every opportunity, I am growing up a little bit and playing baseball the way people want to. I just have to focus and do the best I can."
Puig's postgame celebrations during the postseason have also been, shall we say, notable. A champagne-soaked Puig is always the center of the party. He dances and sprays everyone in sight, and after Game 7 of the NLCS, his targets included a few unsuspecting media members who ended up with 20-gallon trash cans of freezing ice water dumped on their heads.
It was a shirtless Puig who guaranteed the Dodgers would win the World Series after clinching the NL West title in Game 163, and now, he's four victories away from being right. The outfielder is hitting .333 with a .429 on-base-percentage in 11 games this postseason. He's also slugging .533 with a .962 OPS. Last year, Puig hit two home runs and drove in four runs in seven games during the World Series against the Astros, but he had more strikeouts (five) than hits (four) in 27 at-bats.
It was not the good Puig. He expects to be better this time around.
"I want to take [the World Series] as another game and try not to do too much," he said. "I think last year in the World Series, myself and couple of teammates tried too much, and that's why the results were not like we wanted. Now, I'll try to play against Boston -- in my first time at Fenway Park -- and just do the best I can. All I can do is play good defense and be the best I can."
The best of Puig can be rewarding. He was greeted by most of his teammates after his three-run home against the Brewers, a sign the unpredictable star is beloved in the clubhouse, warts and all.
"He's an awesome teammate," NLCS MVP Cody Bellinger said. "He cares about everyone. He's going to do some stuff on the field that makes people question what he does, but we understand where he's coming from and that's just how he plays the game. If he's playing like that, it means he's having fun and that's when he is playing the best. I got nothing bad to say about him, I really don't."
Puig and Bellinger have grown closer in the last few weeks, in part because of their daily competition to outdo each other at the plate. It was Bellinger's two-run home run in the second inning of Game 7 that gave the Dodgers a lead they would never relinquish. Puig's homer put it away a few innings later. The pair later celebrated the victory on social media, and even joked about which player had the better game.
The question remains: Which of the two had the best at-bats in Game 7?
"I would say Puig ended the game, basically, so I would say Puig," Bellinger said. "I just wouldn't say it to his face."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.