Alex Verdugo is the poster child for “Let the kids play”

MLB has created an ad campaign around “Let the kids play” and no one epitomizes that more on the Dodgers than Alex Verdugo.  You might have thought that with Yasiel Puig gone the Dodgers would no longer have a child-man playing in the outfield but the brash massive gold chain wearing center fielder Alex Verdugo is a bundle of emotion that erupts in jubilation whenever he successfully does something significant with the bat.

Many Dodger fans had no idea what they had in Alex Verdugo because the Dodgers had kept him under wraps because of the depth of their outfield and 2019 looked to be more of the same. You can’t fault the Dodgers for signing A.J. Pollock because the deal was so team friendly but when they failed to trade Joc Pederson it put Verdugo squarely on the bench. I even “wrongly” argued that Verdugo would be better off in AAA until the Dodger figured out a way to playing time for him.  Instead, Verdugo took every opportunity to show that he was a major league starter and finished April with one of the best age 23 or younger months in LAD history.

With Pollock once again on the disabled list for a significant amount of time, Alex Verdugo has had one of his roadblocks to playing time removed.  If the Dodgers are lucky they might even have the rare left-handed hitter who can hit left-handed pitchers. Joc Pederson is a platoon player for a very valid reason, he can’t hit left-handed pitching. (career .570 OPS against LHP).  Andre Ethier was basically a platoon player for the same reason given his career .633 OPS against LHP. Alex Verdugo is crushing LHP, but in very limited sample size.

Cody Bellinger put up one the greatest Aprils in Dodger history, but when you look at Aprils for Dodgers, twenty-three or younger, Verdugo is right there with Joc Pederson, Adrian Beltre, Willie and Tommie Davis, and Corey Seager. That is a great leaderboard list to be part of.

Player                 Split Year  PA 2B HR   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
Cody Bellinger   April/March 2019 132  6 14 .431 .508 .890 1.397
Joc Pederson     April/March 2015  77  5  4 .298 .461 .596 1.057
Adrian Beltre    April/March 1999  93  8  1 .355 .441 .553  .993
Alex Verdugo     April/March 2019  72  4  4 .333 .361 .623  .984
Willie Davis     April/March 1962  65  1  5 .298 .369 .614  .983
Tommy Davis      April/March 1962  81  7  5 .316 .333 .646  .979
Corey Seager     April/March 2017 107  6  5 .319 .411 .549  .961
Tommy Davis      April/March 1961  75  3  5 .309 .373 .574  .947
Bill Russell     April/March 1969  70  2  1 .304 .443 .464  .907

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2019.

The Rookie of the Year race has been dominated by Pete Alonso on the East Coast and Fernando Tatis on the West Coast, but Alex Verdugo is right there in the discussion.  Will be curious to see if he still in the discussion a month from now.

Name                 Age OPS+  PA Year  Tm Lg 2B 3B HR RBI SO
Pete Alonso           24  175 128 2019 NYM NL  8  1  9  26 36
Alex Verdugo          23  157  76 2019 LAD NL  4  2  4  16  9
Christian Walker      28  150 116 2019 ARI NL 10  0  7  15 34
Fernando Tatis Jr.    20  145 111 2019 SDP NL  5  1  6  13 32

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2019.

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