The Boston Red Sox were crushed for trading Mookie Betts. It was a bitter sweet day for me personally. I probably wouldn’t have done it but I also understood why the Red Sox did it. Handing out those contracts for more than $300 million haven’t resulted in championships. Boston has already started to reap the rewards of the trade. Sox fans should be happy with Alex Verdugo.
To be honest, when it was announced Verdugo was part of the trade, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew he could hit from his time with the Dodgers but I was expecting an Andrew Benintendi type of player. Verdugo has been better than advertised and looks like a star in the making.
Obviously the 2020 season is going to be a short sample size with 60 games but Verdugo looks very good. The left handed bat has posted a batting line of .310/.365/.525 in his second full season at the major league level. I’ll take that every day of the week. Verdugo keeps getting better as his numbers are up from his Dodger days.
Verdugo has shown the ability to get on base. That’s the most important thing. His swing is so mechanically sound. There’s a reason why he ranks in the 82nd percentile in whiff rate. There are no holes in his left handed swing. No looping motion trying to hit the homer. Everything is on point.
When you watch him swing, his hands are so relaxed. Verdugo’s knee bend shows how much of a natural athlete he is. Verdugo ranks in the 70th percentile in sprint speed. There’s room to grow with his athletic profile.
Moving foward, Verdugo just needs to add more power in his game. At 24, that feels like something that will come over time. Predicting the trajectory of a baseball player is hard. Just from watching him, Verdugo seems like a fiery character that puts the work in. Upping his home run totals will take him from a good to great.
Thus far, the Red Sox outfielder has 5 home runs in 33 games. Last year Verdugo hit 12 in 106 games. Maybe he’s just a 20 home run guy and that’s it. The former Dodger farm hand ranks in the bottom 18th percentile in exit velocity. If there’s one hole in his game, it’s the fact that the raw power numbers haven’t been there.
I have optimism that he can improve in this area. For starters, Verdugo checks in at 6-foot, 195. It’s not like he’s a tiny guy. Number two, Verdugo has done something other prolific lefties have struggled with at Fenway. The Sox outfielder has no problem taking the ball to the opposite field. He’s hit a bunch of homers over the monster. He’s proven he can hit the ball all over the diamond. The power numbers will only go up the more he gets comfortable spraying balls the opposite way at Fenway.
I think the most surprising part of his game has been the defensive side. Alex Verdugo leads the majors in outfield assists. I’m not making that up. Nobody has gunned more runners than any player in the majors. He’s already gunned 7 base runners so far this year. His outfield throwing arm is elite. Something I didn’t necessarily know prior to him arriving in Boston.
Red Sox fans should be overjoyed with what they have gotten out of Alex Verdugo. The trade is shaping up nicely. Especially considering that Jeter Downs was the blue-chip piece in the trade, in my opinion. If Downs turns into a star along with the continued progression of Verdugo, the Sox could look very smart here.