The Cuban Connection: Comparing Yasiel Puig to Yoenis Cespedes


May 29, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) stands on the on-deck circle during the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT

With both Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes hailing from Cuba, it would appear they have something in common: their nation of origin. That’s not where their similarities end. In fact, they have much more in common than just coming to America from Cuba to play baseball in the major leagues. Let’s take a look at just how they compare.

Position on the field

Well, this one is a bit obvious. Both Cespedes and Puig are outfielders. Cespedes plays left field for the Oakland Athletics, and Puig plays right field for the LA Dodgers.

June 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) hits a single in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Length of time in the majors

Yasiel Puig was signed by the LA Dodgers in 2012 for a seven-year deal worth $42 million. He played minor league ball for over a year, and on June 3, 2013, he made his Major League Baseball debut against the San Diego Padres. In his first at bat, he hit a single to left-center off of Eric Stults.Yoenis Cespedes also signed a contract in 2012, his for $36 million over four years to play for the Oakland Athletics. Unlike Puig, however, he didn’t play in the minors before making his major-league debut. Cespedes struck out his first time at bat, but he hit a double on his second trip to the plate.

Home runs

There are a lot of similarities between the two in this department; both players have shown they can hit the ball over the fence. For the month of June, both players have hit four home runs. Also, since the naming of Robinson Canoe and David Wright as the captains for the 2013 Home Run Derby, which is occurring in about a month’s time, there has been speculation that each of these players could be representatives for their leagues (National League for Puig and American League for Cespedes).

If there was one difference in home runs between the two, I’d have to say it’s the clutch factor. Even though Puig has shown a comparable amount of power, Cespedes has a tendency to hit homers at very opportune times. Since the start of the 2012 season, Cespedes has hit home runs to tie the game or give his team the lead, in the eighth inning or later, five times. The last time he hit such as home run was against the Kansas City Royals in May. Of course, with Puig’s career so young, we may see this from him in the future.

Jun 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder Yoenis Cespedes hits a single against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Team location

As mentioned, Cespedes plays for the Oakland Athletics and Puig for the LA Dodgers. The A’s are part of the American League West, and the Dodgers are part of the National League West. Both players are playing in the western part of the country. But, they are closer than that even. LA and Oakland are both in California and each team’s stadiums are just a five and a half hour car ride from each other.


I’ve talked about the similarities, so now I’m going to talk about the two biggest differences I see between the two players. The first is batting average. Right now, Puig is batting out of his mind with a .487 average, while Cespedes is batting .236. Obviously, we can expect Puig’s batting average to come down out of the clouds at some point, but, even when it does, it will probably still be significantly higher than Cespedes’ average. It’s too early to say exactly where it will settle out, but I would be shocked if it’s around Cespedes’ .236 average. I should note, however, that Cespedes has averaged .275 for his career and .286 for the month of June.

The other difference is, I’m not sure of the right word, recklessness perhaps? I haven’t heard anything about this in regards to Cespedes, but I have heard a good deal in regards to Puig. Puig, as you may recall, was involved in the bench-clearing brawl between the LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Not only was he involved, he was the first player to be hit with a pitch; it grazed his nose. Puig has escaped suspension for his role in the brawl. Before he played in the majors, he had issues as well. He has had various punishments from his year in the minor leagues, an arrest for reckless driving, and a year suspension from the days he played in Cuba for an unknown infraction.