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He hasn’t been out of the lineup since, energizing his teammates not only with his bat but with daredevil base running that doesn’t always end well. After stealing two bases himself last week to set up the winning run in a game, Kemp was asked what the difference was in the Dodgers of early season and midseason.

“Puig,” he answered.

The Dodgers took a big chance on Puig, who was viewed as a raw talent when he was signed for $42 million over seven years in a gamble only a deep-pocketed team can afford. The contract now looks like a bargain on a team loaded with big contracts, including one with Andre Ethier, who used to occupy right field at Dodger Stadium and could be the odd man out in the outfield once Carl Crawford returns from injury.

For all Puig is doing on the field for the Dodgers, his impact on the franchise might be greater than his ability to hit or run the bases. Before he was called up the Dodgers were struggling mightily, and Dodger Stadium was littered with empty seats.

Now, fans who are notorious for leaving early to beat the traffic are staying to the end of games just to get another chance to see Puig hit.

The .436 average isn’t likely to last the summer. But early indications are Puigmania could be in for a long run in LA.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg