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Dodgers: More Ways To Get Alex Verdugo Playing Time

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 01: Alex Verdugo #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he hits a pinch hit home run in the fifth inning of the game off Drew Pomeranz #37 of the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on April 1, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo has begun the 2019 season as a part-time player who is swinging an almost elite bat. He’s become a fan favorite with his enthusiasm and excellent play. The fans want to see more of “Dugie” and I’m guessing the Dodgers are working on more ways to get him some at-bats. Our own Brian Robitaille had some proposals to get him some more playing time and there are sure to be more ideas floating around as Verdugo is establishing himself as a quality Major League player.

Team Batting
Rk Pos Name Age G PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1 C Austin Barnes 29 16 56 44 10 1 0 2 5 10 8 .227 .375 .386 .761 104
2 1B Max Muncy* 28 20 74 63 17 2 1 5 14 9 20 .270 .351 .571 .923 139
3 2B Enrique Hernandez 27 19 74 64 18 4 0 4 11 9 14 .281 .365 .531 .896 134
4 SS Corey Seager* 25 21 82 71 17 5 0 2 6 10 16 .239 .341 .394 .736 95
5 3B Justin Turner 34 19 80 67 19 2 0 0 8 9 16 .284 .375 .313 .688 87
6 LF Joc Pederson* 27 20 78 64 15 1 1 8 14 9 14 .234 .359 .656 1.015 161
7 CF A.J. Pollock 31 21 86 78 20 3 1 2 14 5 13 .256 .302 .397 .700 84
8 RF Cody Bellinger* 23 20 86 74 32 4 1 10 24 11 10 .432 .512 .919 1.431 269
9 UT Chris Taylor 28 20 54 47 8 2 0 1 4 6 14 .170 .278 .277 .554 49
10 OF Alex Verdugo* 23 20 45 44 16 3 1 3 12 1 7 .364 .378 .682 1.060 173
11 1B David Freese 36 15 31 25 7 4 0 1 5 6 6 .280 .419 .560 .979 158
12 C Russell Martin (10-day dl) 36 6 22 15 5 1 0 1 2 5 3 .333 .500 .600 1.100 191
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/19/2019.

The Regular Lineup

The current starting lineup is pretty strong as of this writing, even with some guys not quite hitting up to their potential. Baseball is a streaky game so the guys who are hitting now will probably slow down while the players below par, will get hot soon.

What About Verdugo?

Since Verdugo is a left-handed hitter and only plays outfield (lefty thrower also) there are some limits on where he can play defensively. He does play all three outfield positions and has an excellent arm.

One issue that is bothersome is that he’s only had 5 plate appearances against left-handed pitching (he is 3-5 with 1 HR, and batted .396 in AAA in ‘18). He’s a young player and needs to hit more against lefties. Overall, as of this writing, he’s slashing .364/.378/.682/.440/177 (AVG/OBP/SLG/wOBA/wRC+) in 45 plate appearances. He’s only walked once and has struck out 7 times. In most cases he has good at-bats where he stays within the strike zone and makes the pitcher work. He also hits the ball all over the field so he’s not easy to shift on.

How can the Dodgers get Verdugo into the lineup more?

One Option in Use – Muncy Sits or Plays 2B

In this option Cody Bellinger plays first base and Alex Verdugo plays right field. This option usually would mean that Muncy or Kiké sits and they are both playing well. From a defensive perspective, any time Bellinger is at first and Kiké is at second the defense is elite. My philosophy is having the best defense playing at the end of the game which puts Bellinger and Kiké in those positions. When Muncy is at second he seems to do OK but if the game starts that way, it should not end with him an second.

Resting Players

The Dodgers know they need to rest Justin Turner and should consider resting A.J. Pollock a little bit as it is a long season. Corey Seager should also get some days off but that really doesn’t help Verdugo much. When Seager sits, then Chris Taylor plays. We’ll lay out some “rest” scenarios that could help Alex Verdugo get more starts with some one-time-per-week rest for some players.

  • Turner Sits
    • Bellinger to 1B
    • Muncy or Freese at 3B
    • Verdugo to RF
  • Pollock Sits
    • Verdugo to CF
  • Seager Sits Against LHP
    • Taylor to SS
    • Pederson sits against LHP anyway
    • Verdugo to LF
  • Kiké Sits Against RHP
    • Muncy to 2B
    • Bellinger to 1B
    • Verdugo to RF

That’s four scenarios that can give Verdugo 4-5 starts per week. The Seager and Kiké scenarios are not platoons and should only happen once a week for rest purposes. Resting Turner and Pollock more than once a week should not be discounted as they are on the wrong side of 30 and we want them fresh at the end of the season. Keeping players fresh should not be an issue or a problem for the Dodgers with the depth they have. Having players properly rested for the pennant race and the post-season is paramount.

Likely Outcome

Eventually, Cody Bellinger will be back at first base full-time. That will leave an opening in right field and Verdugo is the answer. This will impact the playing time of some pretty good players like Pederson, Muncy and/or Hernández. My belief is that Verdugo will be a better hitter than the previously mentioned players within the next 1-2 years. As a big believer in defense, getting Bellinger back to first base is crucial in the long-term. It will also keep Bellinger healthier with a little less wear and tear than playing in the outfield.

Final Thoughts

Like many of us, when the Kyle Farmer trade occurred I thought the goal was to get playing time for Alex Verdugo. Signing Pollock as a free agent seemed to have altered that plan but Verdugo is forcing his way into the lineup. It’s a good thing the Dodgers have kept both Pederson and Verdugo and some predicted that Verdugo would break out. The Dodgers do have a lot of talent and there aren’t any easy decisions to get Verdugo more at-bats. However, this article has presented some scenarios that could bring him closer to being a full-time player. Besides, Clayton Kershaw needs a dance partner:

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Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

5 Comments

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  1. The best option — platoon Verdugo and Pollock. Not going to happen — yet. Pollock continues to have horrible at-bats against any right handed pitcher who throws an average or better slider — unless that changes, then look for more of Verdugo in CF. So far, Roberts is doing a fine job of shuffling his position players; don’t fix what isn’t broken.

  2. Hey Tim like your suggestions. I believe Verdugo will prove to have great splits and I would stop using Taylor in the OF against Lefties. Taylor is a SO waiting to happen especially with RISP or runners on. Taylor does not make the proper Team or Baseball move in moving runners over as he strikes out. No matter Roberts feelings on Taylor the guy has played himself out of the line up. I think Roberts played Taylor to start to let him either sink or swim. Well he has sunk…

    I also like your other scenarios as Pollock and Turner are older and proven to be fragile. We need to keep them fresh. I have liked Pollock even when struggling at times as he moves the runner no matter what. He is a great Team Guy. I do not worry about Turner he never starts hot but builds from with at bats.

    We know that a great defense is very important especially in tight games against champion level opponents as every run counts. Bellinger at first is the best alternative defensively and Verdugo has good speed and a Plus Plus Arm. Looking at the defensive metrics Muncy has actually played well at second and third. I would play him there over Taylor as again Taylor is a huge drag offensively.

    I have been impressed with Pederson so far but with the short benches these days someone that is not able, so far, to prove he is not a guaranteed out against Lefties is a liability. And Pederson took a step back in his defensive numbers last year. I would definitely play Verdugo over Pederson or Taylor and Roberts as dense as he is may figure that out eventually.

    Do you hear if they have a clue about Kelly’s issues? The guy is throwing 98 but his pitches look flat with poor movement sometimes. I am sure some of those are the pitches that are being scorched. He also is fighting control issues.

    Baez seems to have figured it out thankfully. Alexander has been great as has Ferguson. I had hoped to see Sborz pitch.

  3. Upon concluding their 4-game series against Milwaukee, the Dodgers will travel to Chicago to face the Cubs. They(Cubs) will start Quintana and Lester both LHPs, so it means Pederson will Not start and most likely not play until the Dodgers get those LHPs out of the game. Pederson will forget how to hit again and not start until the 3rd game when Hendricks will start for Cubs. Hendricks is a good pitcher that has given the Dodgers fits in the past! Perhaps, Verdugo will get to start/play in the first two-games against the Cubs. I get the feeling the Dodgers will get swept by the Cubs, will fly home to face the 1st-place Pirates.

  4. I’m watching the Dodgers-Brewers game today(Sunday). At least if/when Pederson is sat down(again) because of Cubs’ LHPs(Quintana,Hammels), he hit two homeruns against the Brewers. Pederson remember you can hit, when you come back in the third game vs. Cubs or if you pinch-hit.

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