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The Curious Case of César Puello

Puello has been designated by the Angels for the 2nd time in two years

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

César Puello stormed into the hearts of Angels fans in very short order. It doesn’t hurt to go 8 for your first 15 ABs, hit 2 home runs, and drive in 6. Puello had arrived and fans were thrilled. Puello played 12 games for the Angels and didn’t get on base in only one of them. In that game the Angels only mustered 4 total hits and Peullo had only 2 plate appearances. Now that the Angels have designated him, did they make the right decision?

Who is César Puello and where did he come from??

Puello was signed out of the Dominican Republic at age 17 in 2007 by the New York Mets. The Mets released him in 2015 after he missed nearly the entire season with a stress reaction in his back. Puello played in only 1 game for the Mets AA team that year. The Yankees snagged him as a free agent that off-season and in 2016 he slashed .283/.413/.404 for their AAA team, playing alongside and being overshadowed by Aaron Judge. The Yankees didn’t see a place for Puello so he was a free agent once again and signed with the Texas Rangers.

Puello struggled a bit with the Rangers and the Angels picked him up when he was released in June. On the season in 2017, Puello slashed .327/.377/.526 in AAA. Puello was called up by the Angels on August 9th, 2017 after finally breaking out enough to show he was ready. Puello went 1 for 4 with an RBI and K in that game but was soon the victim of roster crunch for the first time. Andrew Bailey was back, so Puello was DFA’d to make room. Ironically, Bailey would pitch in only one game after that - the last game of his career.

Puello raked again in 2018, putting up a .313/.417/.432 slash with the Giants and Diamondbacks before becoming a free agent. The Angels apparently liked him well enough to sign him again in December to a minor league contract with a Spring Training Invite.

Before his call-up, Puello hit .299 with a .434 OBP for Salt Lake. He also had 7 home runs and a pair of stolen bases.

Through 50 plate appearances for the Angels, Puello already had a 221 wRC+ and 0.9 fWAR. He had a .500 OBP and was hit by pitch 6 times. The dude was literally taking one (and then some) for the team. Would Brian Goodwin do that? Nah. He’s just been hit by one pitch all season. take a look at their comparison:

Puello vs. Goodwin

Player Timeframe fWAR wRC+ PA 2B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG
Player Timeframe fWAR wRC+ PA 2B HR BB K AVG OBP SLG
Puello First 15 Games 0.9 221 50 3 3 3 8 0.390 0.500 0.683
Goodwin First 15 Games 144 49 3 2 4 11 0.326 0.388 0.535
----------------- ----------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Goodwin Last 43 Games 83 157 7 3 11 37 0.259 0.308 0.371
Goodwin Season 0.6 113 228 12 6 19 52 0.289 0.348 0.446

The Angels clearly see some more upside in Brian Goodwin or perhaps they like his fielding better. Or perhaps they wanted to keep another left handed bat - because you know, matchups??

Speaking of matchups, here are the splits.

César Puello

v. Lefties = .363 AVG, .500 OBP, .773 SLG
v. Righties = .421 AVG, .500 OBP, .579 SLG

Brian Goodwin

v. Lefties = .262 AVG, .311 OBP, .429 SLG
v. Righties = .296 AVG, .357 OBP, .451 SLG

Smaller sample size with Puello, but that is a pretty huge difference. Also of note is that Brian Goodwin has a career OBP of .326 which is so-so AND includes his hot start in April. In 2017 he hit .251 with a .313 OBP and in 2018 he hit .239 with a .318 OBP.

Fare thee well César Puello - some team will be lucky to have you. It’s unlikely Puello will clear waivers. It was fun having the GOAT while it lasted.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images