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.
|12||C||Russell Martin (10-day dl)||36||6||22||15||5||1||0||1||2||5||3||.333||.500||.600||1.100||191|
The Regular Lineup
- 1B Max Muncy and some David Freese
- 2B Kiké Hernández
- SS Corey Seager
- 3B Justin Turner
- LF Joc Pederson and Chris Taylor
- CF A.J. Pollock
- RF Cody Bellinger
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.
A 98.4 MPH missile. ?
That’s tied with Michael A. Taylor for hardest tracked throw this year on an assist. pic.twitter.com/u8cocixaLR
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) April 19, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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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