The Dodgers best pitching prospect will make his debut tonight at Dodger Stadium against the San Diego Padres, so I thought it might be a good idea to look at the best scores for a rookie debut, for a rookie debut at Dodger Stadium, for a rookie debut against the Padres, for a rookie debut in August, for a rookie debut in August at Dodger Stadium. All these are based on the LAD franchise not the Dodger franchise.
Pedro Astacio is still the gold standard for all LAD debuts. Ross Stripling is the only active Dodger with a game score debut > 70, but Kenta Maeda is on the list with a game score debut of 66.
It is not surprising that all of the Japanese imports are on the highest LAD debut game score list since all of them were highly sought free agents from Japan and only technically rookies, but it is always a surprise to remember that the worst of them Kaz Ishii had the best debut.
Player Date Rslt IP H ER BB SO GSc Pedro Astacio 1992-07-03(2) W 2-0 9.0 3 0 4 10 87 Nick Willhite 1963-06-16(2) W 2-0 9.0 5 0 1 6 82 Doug Rau 1972-09-02 W 5-1 9.0 3 1 2 2 77 Eric Gagne 1999-09-07 L 1-2 6.0 2 0 1 8 75 Ross Stripling 2016-04-08 L 2-3 7.1 0 1 4 4 74 Kazuhisa Ishii 2002-04-06 W 9-2 5.2 2 0 3 10 72 Hiroki Kuroda 2008-04-04 W 7-1 7.0 3 1 0 4 71 Hideo Nomo 1995-05-02 L 3-4 5.0 1 0 4 7 68 Ramon Martinez 1988-08-13 W 2-1 7.2 4 1 4 5 68 Kenta Maeda 2016-04-06 W 7-0 6.0 5 0 0 4 66 Shawn Hillegas 1987-08-09 W 5-2 8.2 7 2 3 6 65 Rick Sutcliffe 1976-09-29 W 1-0 5.0 2 0 1 3 65
Rookie Debuts at Dodger Stadium:
Player Date Rslt IP H ER BB SO HR GSc Pedro Astacio 1992-07-03(2) W 2-0 9.0 3 0 4 10 0 87 Nick Willhite 1963-06-16(2) W 2-0 9.0 5 0 1 6 0 82 Kazuhisa Ishii 2002-04-06 W 9-2 5.2 2 0 3 10 0 72 Ramon Martinez 1988-08-13 W 2-1 7.2 4 1 4 5 0 68 Shawn Hillegas 1987-08-09 W 5-2 8.2 7 2 3 6 0 65 Rick Sutcliffe 1976-09-29 W 1-0 5.0 2 0 1 3 0 65
Rookie Debuts Against the Padres:
Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H ER BB SO HR GSc Doyle Alexander 1971-06-26(2) LAD SDP W 4-3 8.0 7 2 0 3 1 63 Jose De Leon 2016-09-04 LAD SDP W 7-4 6.0 5 3 0 9 1 57
Rookie Debuts in August
Rk Player Date Rslt IP H ER BB SO HR GSc 1 Ramon Martinez 1988-08-13 W 2-1 7.2 4 1 4 5 0 68 2 Shawn Hillegas 1987-08-09 W 5-2 8.2 7 2 3 6 0 65 3 Jim Neidlinger 1990-08-01 L 1-2 6.0 7 1 1 3 0 56 4 Nathan Eovaldi 2011-08-06 W 5-3 5.0 4 2 2 7 0 56
Rookie Debut in August at Dodger Stadium
Ramon Martinez on 8/13/1988 had the highest games score debut in August at Dodger Stadium.
On May 10th the Dodgers had a decision to make. They were feeling a roster crunch and would need to get rid of one of their three catchers. They had acquired Travis d’Arnaud on May 5th after he had been released by the Mets on May 3rd. Travis had been so bad for the Mets that they were going to eat the rest of his contract which paid him almost 3 Million in 2019. Travis got into one game for the Dodgers on May 7th.
Austin Barnes meanwhile had a .697 OPS propped up by an OBP (.316) 100 points higher than his batting average. Barnes had minor league options, they could have optioned him to the minor leagues and kept d’Arnaud but instead, they sold him to the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the expected move, but it didn’t turn out to be the right move.
Since joining Tampa Bay, Travis d’Arnaud has been one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. He has a 124 wRC+ which ranks third among AL catchers and 5th among all catchers since May 11th with at least 100 plate appearances.
Austin Barnes meanwhile, since May 11th has a wRC+ of 40 and Russell Martin has a wRC+ of 61 for rankings of 38 and 34 respectively. That is bad.
I don’t think anyone can blame the Dodgers front office for picking their own two catchers over Travis, but man does that decision look bad in hindsight. The Dodgers are still on a pace to win over 100 games, the fact they are doing this while getting the worst offensive production from the catching position has been amazing.
Barnes has been sent back to AAA to find his swing, with Will Smith getting promoted to become the starting catcher. This could still all work out in the end. Travis could crater back to what he was doing in April, Smith could simply be the answer, Barnes could find his swing and help if Smith is not up to the task.
For whatever reason, the Dodger front office took forever to make the obvious call to send Barnes to AAA, and bring up Smith. For many Dodger fans, this is a move that should have been done at least a month ago if not months ago.
I hope Smith proves that he can be a starting catcher for a team with World Champion aspirations, that Barnes finds his groove, and that Martin can find some kind of offense in his bat so he’s simply not a veteran garnish.
The trade deadline has always been an exciting time for fans as the buyers hope to acquire the piece that will give their team the edge come October, while the sellers hope to acquire the prospects or major league talent to change the fortunes of a team already out of a playoff run.
It also cuts both ways for the players. If you are on a team seeking another player and you are a key component of that team, you herald the front office search to add another piece to your October run, however, if you aren’t a key component the trade deadline could be maddening. What if you love being a Dodger but to make the current Dodger team better, you might be the price they have to pay to make it happen.
It isn’t always prospects that get traded in these in-season deals. Molly Knight of the Atlantic wrote about every single Dodger July deal since their last World Championship.
The Dodgers have made 74 transactions in the month of July since they last won a championship in 1988. Each one has failed to put them over the top. I went and looked back at all those moves and wrote about why this time might be different: https://t.co/mM2aqPriO9
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) July 22, 2019
These are the Dodgers who were on the 25-man roster when the deals were made as they attempted to strengthen their team.
Mariano Duncan, Tim Leary, Hiram Bocachica, Juan Encarnacion, Paul Lo Duca, Guillermo Mota, Sandy Alomar Junior, Willy Aybar, Danys Baez, Odaliz Perez, Cesar Izturis, Boom Boom Betemit, Andy LaRoche, James McDonald, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Guerrier, Paco Rodriguez, and Logan Forsythe.
If you go through all the July trades that Molly documents you will find that over 95% of the deals are the Dodgers buying not selling. Sometimes that buying involved moving major league Dodgers. The biggest major league player to be traded was their starting catcher in 2004 Paul Lo Duca. It caused a big uproar at the time and Molly covers that in her story. Heck, just last year the Dodgers traded 2nd baseman Logan Forsythe for 2nd baseman Dozier.
Dodgers on the current 25-Man Roster or who have played in the majors this year that might be trade bait could be:
Austin Barnes or Russell Martin to open up a spot for Will Smith. Neither would bring back much, Martin could be moved to a contending team that wants a better backup, Barnes to a team willing to see if that 2017 magic can come alive again while knowing he’s a catcher that pitchers love having behind the plate. I think the Dodgers would be fine with a duo of either Smith/Barnes or Smith/Martin but they may not think so. We will find out in nine days. Keibert Ruiz was promoted to AAA which means the Dodgers have their two top catching prospects at the same level. That is a bit weird and hard to imagine that stays the case.
Kiké Hernádez which would open up a spot for uber-prospect Gavin Lux. With Chris Taylor hurt and not due back until September I feel this might be a reach, but if Chris Taylor was here I think this would be in play.
Joc Pederson is the odd man out right now. To try to get him in the lineup the Dodgers have used him at 1st base but the Dodgers have already said he won’t be playing 1st base come October. With a healthy outfield of Bellinger / Pollock / Verdugo and none of them needing to be platooned, he’s only going to get at-bats if someone gets hurt or when Dave Roberts makes room for him. The Dodgers have several minor league options to take his spot on the roster. Matt Beaty has shown he can play the outfield. Zach Reks is a left hand hitting outfielder who has hit 23 minor league home runs to go with his .935 OPS over two levels this year. At 25, he’s ready to show what he can do. Right-hand hitting OF Kyle Garlick has torn up AAA to the tune of a 1.105 OPS and already had a decent run with the Dodgers a few weeks ago. At 27 years old his time is also now. The surprise name on this might be DJ Peters who just a few weeks ago was having a sub-par season at AA. The Dodgers promoted Peters to AAA on June 27th and he’s done nothing but crush since his promotion. Peters hit eleven home runs in 250 at-bats in AAA but has already hit eight in only eighty at-bats at AAA. His strikeout rate has dropped significantly while increasing his walk rate. If you didn’t have his AA numbers staring at you, and you only saw his AAA numbers, you’d think he’s one of the top hitting prospects in AAA. Anyway, the point is that none of them are as good as Joc Pederson but if Joc can help bring in a piece that would help the team more than he would, he might be someone who will be playing on another team come August 1st.
Matt Beaty is already a Dodger legend even though he’s only had 123 major league plate appearances. He’s never been a highly-touted prospect. He barely squeezes into top 20 Dodger prospect lists. He’s blocked everywhere you look by Muncy, Verdugo, Joc, and Turner. I’m not sure what he’d bring back in a trade. I’m not sure you should even think of trading him. What a major league hit tool.
Kenta Maeda’s name never comes up in trade conversations. I don’t get it, he’s got a fantastic contract, he’d be a great addition to any rotation that isn’t the Dodgers. He doesn’t appear to have a no-trade clause. Eric Stephen said when he was signed that
In addition, Maeda receives a $1 million bonus each time he is traded.
He has worked well out of the bullpen but when he does pitch out of the bullpen he loses money. It has always made more sense to simply trade a great contract like Kenta for a better bullpen piece. In a normal year, you would hate to trade a rotation piece like Kenta but right now the Dodgers aren’t playing for the Western Division, that is in the bag, they are creating a roster for October. Kenta will not start in October, he hasn’t made a postseason start since 2016 and I doubt that would change in 2019. He’s headed for the bullpen but maybe he would bring back a better bullpen piece. Just saying.
Ross Stripling is another pitcher who is better suited to the rotation than the bullpen. He’s cheap and solid and might be the better option for a team looking to get younger, but still have an actual major league arm in the return
Caleb Ferguson probably has to be on this list which is really annoying. If Caleb had pitched this year like he did last year maybe the Dodgers aren’t searching for that other kickass relief arm. He hasn’t, and the price may be his to pay, which is to bad because I really like this guy.
This is not a reactionary column to another poor outing by the Dodger bullpen, but it is about the season-long problems with the bullpen. The team is still on pace to win 105 games so at this point we only care about the wins in October.
I’ve followed Keibert and watched him climb up the Dodgers prospect ranking to take the number one spot this spring. Many names have been bandied about to help the Dodger bullpen but far and away the best name and option belongs to Felipe Vazquez of the Pirates.
Via the Fangraphs Custom Date Tool, here the best relief pitchers via fWAR from 4/1/2017 – 7-17-2019.
|Felipe Vazquez||185.2||5.8||11.63||2.67||0.53||46.4 %||2.37||2.96||2.13|
|Josh Hader||175||5.3||15.17||3.34||1.13||29.0 %||2.65||2.57||2.31|
|Roberto Osuna||140.2||5.2||9.92||1.34||0.45||42.1 %||2.24||3.28||2.82|
|Blake Treinen||195.2||5.1||9.75||3.27||0.55||52.9 %||3||3.4||2.76|
|Sean Doolittle||135.2||5||11.14||1.79||0.73||30.1 %||2.44||3.62||2.45|
|Edwin Diaz||175.2||5||13.88||3.13||1.13||40.9 %||2.93||2.83||3.13|
|Aroldis Chapman||138.1||4.8||13.99||4.03||0.46||46.5 %||2.26||2.8||2.73|
|Kenley Jansen||178.2||4.6||12.19||1.61||1.21||35.6 %||2.85||2.88||2.52|
|Kirby Yates||161.2||4.6||13.64||2.51||1.06||39.6 %||2.67||2.77||2.51|
|Joakim Soria||160||4.4||10.46||2.81||0.51||43.1 %||2.61||3.45||3.71|
Josh Hader, Osuna, Treinen, Doolittle, and Chapman are all on teams the Dodgers might have to beat in Oct to win a World Championship. Diaz was an elite bullpen arm but has given up three runs or more in four games this year and may not be the guy you want to mortgage some of your future for. Just ask the Mets. Kenley Jansen is, of course, our guy. Kirby Yates might be available but I think he’s going elsewhere. Soria is the final guy on the list and the A’s aren’t moving him.
This leaves the best pitcher and the best option. Felipe Vazquez. The Pirates have a fighting chance at the Wild Card but not a very realistic one. Their team simply isn’t that good. To get Vazquez we can look to recent mid-summer deals for elite bullpen arms in the last few years.
In the summer of 2018, Brad Hand was dealt from the Padres along with Adam Climber for the Indians top prospect Francisco Mejia. That was the only prospect the Padres got. At the time of the deal, Brad Hand was in the middle of a contract that would keep him with the Indians through 2021. The Indians were swept in the ALDS by Houston with Brad Hand pitching in two games, getting five outs, giving up three hits and two earned runs. The Indians gave up their top prospect and got nothing from him in the postseason that would have prolonged their season. They still have Brad Hand though, and maybe this year he will be the difference-maker in October. It is a trade I would have made.
On July 25th, 2016 the Cubs traded multiple prospects including Gleyber Torres to the NYY for Aroldis Chapman. Chapman appeared in 28 games for the Cubs during the regular season. The Cubs would win the World Series with Chapman as their closer but it wasn’t like he was Mariano Rivera. Chapman was good enough that he only gave up runs in four of his eighteen games, but two of those games were games six and seven of the World Series. The Cubs got what they wanted when they traded for Chapman, a World Series. They also gave up one of the best young players in baseball.
Headed into this spring Keibert Ruiz was considered the Dodgers top prospect. The previous summer at just nineteen years old he had acquited himself quite well in AA. He had a successful stint in the AFL. The switch-hitting catcher was generally considered the best catching prospect in baseball. Keibert has struggled offensively this year in AA, but he’s still just twenty. As far as the prospect list goes, Alex Verdugo is now a successful major league outfielder which dropped him off the list but Gavin Lux has emerged as the Dodgers best positional prospect.
In my own view, the Dodgers have several untradeable prospects. Those would be Gavin Lux, Dustin May, and Diego Cartaya. Keibert Ruiz is not one of them for one big reason. Will Smith. I have no doubt that Ruiz is going to a major league catcher, hopefully, a good one, but I also believe that Will Smith is also going to be a quality major league catcher. It is only because of Will Smith that I’d consider trading Ruiz but because of Smith, I do think the Dodgers could move Keibert Ruiz for Felipe Vazquez. I think it would take more than Ruiz to pry Vazquez from the Pirates. I would move three prospects for him only because I think this team really has a shot at the elusive World Championship and Vazquez is the guy who might help them get it.
Given the depth, on the major league roster, the Dodgers could actually move Joc Pederson for some prospects that they might move toward the Pirates. Or Kiké. Depth will win you the season but it won’t win you the World Series and the season has already been won.
Anyway using Dustin Noslers top 30 list I’d think a package of Keibert Ruiz, one of (Omar Estevez, Mitchell White, Matt Beaty), one of (Edwin Rios, Edwin Uceta, DJ Peters, Dennis Santana) might get it done. Maybe it will take more, but I do think this is the guy the Dodgers should be targeting.
If they get Vazquez, he will help, but you never know how he will perform in the post-season. The Dodgers have a history of having their best regular-season relief pitchers come up short in the postseason but at least they would have another weapon and the quintet of Jansen/Vazquez/Urias/Kelly/ Baez would be formidable.
The Dodgers get their 2nd half reinforcements on Friday when they are expected to activate Cory Seager, AJ Pollock, and David Freeze but it will come at a price to more than one Dodger who helped propel the team to the best record in baseball while the aforementioned were nursing their injuries.
Matt Beaty has already been optioned back to AAA, and we all recognized his great contributions while he was up. Kyle Garlick and Edwin Rios will be next. Heck of a July trade right? Cory Seager / AJ Pollock / David Freese for Matt Beaty / Kyle Garlick / Edwin Rios.
Dave Roberts will have to figure out how his new lineups will incorporate Taylor, Verdugo, Joc, Freese, and even Hernandez. Right now there simply aren’t enough starting spots for all the players who warrant starting gigs.
While Cory Seager was out, Chris Taylor reestablished himself as an everyday player by being one of the best hitters in the NL since June 11th (when Seager got hurt). Per Fangraphs, Taylor has been the 8th best offensive player in the NL with his 177 wRC+ since June 11th. Seager will slide right back into his SS position so Chris Taylor will need to find a spot somewhere in the lineup.
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||173||1.6||105||0.41||0.652||0.433|
AJ Pollock got off to a slow start and quickly hit the disabled list due to an infection in his surgically repaired body. Alex Verdugo eventually took his spot in CF and has been one of the best center fielders in the NL while Pollock was mending. Using Fangraphs once again we can see how valuable Verdugo has been playing CF since April 29th. It should be worth noting that Pollock came to the Dodgers with a rep as an elite defensive CF and that Verdugo was not supposed to be a good CF. In 2019, Verdugo has been an above average defensive center fielder while Pollock in limited play was below average.
|Ronald Acuna Jr.||2.1||10.9||1||0.363||0.498||0.364||123||292|
If Verdugo moves to LF to make room for Pollock in CF, where does that leave Joc? Both Pollock and Verdugo figure to be full-time players, not platoon players.
The Dodgers recognized the future logjam in the outfield and much to the chagrin of some Dodger fans gave Joc Pederson an in-season try out at 1st base. Joc did not look good at 1st base but if he is going to play, he may have to become a 1st baseman. I thought it was prudent of the Dodgers to entertain this idea since Max Muncy has established that he can play 2nd base. The problem now though is that Chris Taylor needs a place to play, and what about David Freese?
As much as we like Kiké he has lost his starting gig and I’m not even sure how he gets one or two starts per week going forward. Against right-hand pitching, I can see Bellinger/Pollock/Verdugo in the OF and Joc / Muncy / Seager / Turner as the infield leaving Taylor on the bench. Left-hand pitchers could have a lineup of Bellinger/Pollock/Verdugo and an infield of Muncy / Taylor / Seager / Turner.
That leaves Freese and Kiké on the bench all the time except for the occasional start where they rest Turner/Seager/Muncy/Pollock/Verdugo which is how Roberts can still get them some playing time besides Freese pinch hitting and Kiké being a defensive replacement. Expect all of the Dodgers except Bellinger to get plenty of rest in the second half as Dave Roberts tries to make everyone happy.
Of course, this whole exercise could be pointless given the complete health history of AJ Pollock and the recent health history of Cory Seager.
Even though Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers had been rumored for well over a year by well-respected sources I don’t think many Clipper fans really felt it would happen. As Clipper fans have heard every day for forever, no superstar will ever WANT to play for the Clippers. My wife just came home from Dallas where her cousins ridiculed the idea that Kevin Durant would consider the Clippers after they were watching an ESPN show that suggested such a thing. Not only did we hear this daily in Los Angeles, but we also had to listen to it from other localities
I felt in my heart if any free agent would tweak their nose at the rest of the league and sign with the Clippers it would be Leonard. The challenge of playing for a franchise with no championships in a city that is owned by the team they share their building with simply folds most superstars who simply aren’t up for the challenge.
Hell, who can blame them. When Chris Paul was traded to the Clippers he was still a top ten player. He took his family to a Dodger game and they showed him on the monitor Instead of getting the cheers he’s heard all his life, he was booed. In front of his son. I don’t think he ever got over that. I’m sure his son will never forget. I never forgot I’ve thought less of Dodger fans ever since.
Times change though. Donald Sterling is no longer the owner, Steve Ballmer the richest sports owner in the World is. The right-hand man for Ballmer is Jerry West, the Logo, the man who built the Laker juggernaut of Shaq/Kobe. The front office is so loaded that not one but two different assistant General Managers were recruited to run other organizations, and yet they turned down those offers to continue working within the Clipper front office. No one does that.
Winning? Well, the Clippers were the only Los Angeles team to make the postseason this past season. While the Lakers were salivating about another lottery pick the Clippers were the only NBA franchise to beat the Warriors in the postseason when the Warriors had their big four healthy.
The Clippers don’t have any championships, YET. But they do win, oh yes they do.
|Year||Clipper Wins||Clipper Postseason||Laker Wins||Laker Postseason|
|2018-19||48||Lost 1st Round||37||No Playoffs|
|2017-18||42||No Playoffs||35||No Playoffs|
|2016-17||51||Lost 1st Round||26||No Playoffs|
|2015-16||53||Lost 1st Round||17||No Playoffs|
|2014-15||56||Lost Conf Semis||21||No Playoffs|
|2013-14||57||Lost Conf Semis||27||No Playoffs|
|2012-13||56||Lost 1st Round||45||Lost 1st Round|
|2011-2012||40||Lost Conf Semis||41||Lost Semis|
It may have taken Kawhi Leonard to get this city to notice the Clippers, but the Clippers have been the only winning NBA franchise in Los Angeles since 2013. They have won 154 more games than the Lakers since Chris Paul was sent to the Franchise by the NBA commissioner in 2011.
Chris Paul didn’t choose the Clippers, the NBA commissioner did. Blake Griffin didn’t choose the Clippers the draft did.
Kawhi Leonard chose the Clippers. Kawhi not only chose the Clippers over the super team across the hall he decided to build his own super team and recruited Paul George to join him. There will be no Chris Paul stigma as this duo tries to do what Lob City could not do, bring a banner to Staples Center and win over the NBA fans of Los Angeles.
In the past, I thought you could be both a Clipper and Laker fan but not anymore. Kawhi spurned the Lakers and has created a divide that will only be decided when these two superpower franchises match up.
Hopefully in a Western Conference Final.
Much of the talk about the Dodger rookies will be about the back to back to back rookie walk-off home runs this weekend but the Dodger rookies have been banging all year.
Player WAR/pos Year Age PA 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Alex Verdugo 2.5 2019 23 250 17 7 32 18 26 .302 .352 .489 .841 Will Smith 0.5 2019 24 24 1 3 6 2 6 .318 .375 .773 1.148 Kyle Garlick 0.4 2019 27 24 2 2 4 2 9 .318 .375 .682 1.057 Matt Beaty 0.2 2019 26 71 4 2 13 2 11 .333 .352 .478 .830 Rocky Gale -0.2 2019 31 15 0 0 0 0 7 .133 .133 .133 .267
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
I didn’t realize that Rocky Gale was still considered a rookie given that it seems he’s been around a long time. He’s not banging, but everyone else is. Alex Verdugo is now firmly in the ROY race. Alonso has a full one point fWAR lead on him but he also did that with 70 more plate appearances, and one guy is a 1st baseman, the other is a centerfielder so that gap may continue to close as the season progresses if Verdugo can continue to hit at this level while playing a plus center field.
There is a lot to unload from this weekend series with the Rockies.
Every Dodger position rookie is making their mark this year and Matt Beaty is no exception. I haven’t looked at the statcast data, but it seems every time he makes contact it is hard contact. Matt was doing everything right, and yet because of the Rich Hill injury, he was sent down last Wednesday. He didn’t take his flight to Oklahoma and it seemed awful convenient that Josh Sborz suffered an injury that would put him on the injured list so that Matt could rejoin the team in time for the series with the Rockies.
Good thing that the Dodgers never planned on sending Matt to Oklahoma because he was a big part of the Dodger walk-off sweep of the Rockies this past weekend. Matt had been making most of his starts at 1st base but with the Dodgers thinking long term they moved Matt to LF and gave Joc Pederson his first major league start at 1st base. Matt is not an outfielder and Joc is not a 1st baseman but if/when AJ Pollock comes back if Joc is going to play that means he may need to learn how to play 1st base because Cody and Alex are going to be in RF/CF every night for a while. Matt made his mark by hitting the walk-off home run and is now part of major league history by being part of the Dodger Rookie trio who hit back to back to back rookie walk-off home runs this weekend.
That might be the highlight of his career. Or it might just be the start of his career. Max Muncy and others have broken what we expect of AAAA level players. It is very possible that Matt Beaty has the hit tool to have an impactful major league career. I won’t pretend to know what is in store, but what he has done for the Dodgers in June has already had an impact on the team. His ability to play 1st, allowed Max Muncy to move to 2nd, and Max shocked me (maybe everyone) with how well he has handled second base. The Dodgers looked down the road and decided that Joc needed to play 1st base, which tells me all I need to know about who they expect to be on the roster when AJ Pollock comes off the injured list. Unless something happens at the traded deadline it won’t be Matt Beaty but if the Dodgers earn a ring, Matt Beaty will have earned the right to wear that ring.
With the injury to AJ Pollock, Alex Verdugo has planted himself in centerfield and in the hearts of Dodger fans. I don’t want to talk for all Dodger fans but for this fan, his spirit and play has supplanted the fun that Yasiel Puig used to deliver. This comes as a shock to me for several reasons.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a big fan of Alex Verdugo when I first saw him play for the Dodgers. He had the excellent minor league pedigree but there was something that just didn’t sit right with me. Most of it probably had to do with the massive gold chain that seemed out of place but that was just a reactionary response from someone who has never understood the place that jewelry has in our society. Once I got over that I still had the feeling that he simply wasn’t going to be good enough to be an everyday outfielder for a team hunting for a World Championship.
Instead, Verdugo just might be the player you need to win a World Championship. He can hit for average, for power, has decent speed, good arm, makes contact, and plays the game hard. Verdugo may not be great at anything but he’s good at everything you want a player to be good at. The scouting reports said he wasn’t a center-fielder – that seems to be wrong. He’s played a solid centerfield. Not great, but certainly adequate. The scouting reports said he wouldn’t have the power needed in today’s game – the dude hit the longest home run of any Dodger and this team has Cody Bellinger on it
I’m not a big antic fan, and Verdugo has plenty of antics, and the fans are eating it up. I always thought if the fans are having fun who am I to get in the way. If they want to hit beach balls, let em hit beach balls. If they want to do the wave, let them do the wave. If they like their players doing bat flips, dancing in the dugout, doing shimmy things, crazy wild home run greetings. Whatever, we are all at the game to have fun. Your fun is not my fun but why should I get in the way of your fun?
Verdugo is fun. and he’s good. and he might have been exactly what the Dodgers needed.