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The Dodgers' unexpected boost from Nick 'Shredder' Punto

May 17, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Nick Punto has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers this season.
Nick Punto has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers this season. (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)

“Shredder” is a great nickname. No matter what you think about Nick Punto’s penchant for head-first dives to the bag, “Shredder” rocks.

And, much to most everyone’s surprise, so does Punto.

Punto was that other guy who came over to the Dodgers in the blockbuster trade for Adrian Gonzalez last summer from the Red Sox. Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Gonzalez were former All-Stars with rich contracts.

Punto was the undersized utility guy who seemed on the serious downside of his career.

Punto, 35, was batting a career-low .200 when the Dodgers picked him up from the Red Sox. There was absolutely no reason to believe he could pull off what he is doing right now.

Injuries have forced the Dodgers to use Punto more extensively than intended, yet he has responded better than they had any right to dream.

He is currently hitting .333, with .418 on-base and .423 slugging percentages. All three would be career highs.

Punto has played 14 games at second, 11 at third and three at shortstop. He has played in 31 of 39 games, including the last 20 in a row.

With injuries to Hanley Ramirez and Jerry Hairston Jr., and with the failure of Luis Cruz at third, Punto has been playing, playing a lot, and playing well.

He’s a career .247 hitter, so the suspicion is he cannot keep going at this level. But for now, the player they call “Shredder” because of how he rips off the jersey of a teammate following a walk-off hit, rocks. Nickname and all.

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