While in the midst of an all-around solid rookie campaign, Alex Verdugo made his presence felt at the top of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup this season. Though his contributions on the offensive side were noteworthy, he similarly impressed with his play in the outfield.
The 23-year-old has appeared at all three outfield positions in 2019, logging the bulk of his opportunities in center field. He has committed only two errors in the outfield and sported an impressive .989 fielding percentage.
Along with his terrific glove work, Verdugo additionally proved his defensive value with one of the strongest arms in all of baseball. That has especially been evident in July, when Verdugo accounted for many web gems.
One came against the Boston Red Sox, as Verdugo threw out Rafael Devers trying to score on a single to left field. His strike to home plate registered at nan impressive 97.1 mph, helping the Dodgers preserve a 4-2 lead at the time.
Verdugo recently said he hoped to eventually see one of his throws register in the triple digits, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
“I’m just waiting for the triple-digit throw one of these days. It’s going to come.”
Verdugo made a number of impressive throws this season, including one against the Milwaukee Brewers in April during the 2019 National League Championship Series rematch at Miller Park.
Looking to preserve the Dodgers’ shutout, Verdugo fired a 98.8 mph strike to Austin Barnes and threw out Hernan Perez trying to score from second base. L.A. went on to win, 3-1, as timely defensive contributions proved key in the victory.
Then in late May, Verdugo added to his collection of incredible throws. With the Dodgers leading 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Dylan Floro allowed a leadoff double to Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
The 29-year-old attempted to turn his double into a triple, but Verdugo aired a perfect strike to Corey Seager at third base to cut him down.
Verdugo again put his strong arm on display in a July win over the Washington Nationals. Adam Eaton dunked a single into left field with the bases loaded, allowing the Nationals to tie the game, but the rookie outfielder prevented any further runs from scoring with an absolute missile to nab Gerardo Parra at the plate.
The throw clocked in at 97.7 mph according to Statcast — one of Verdugo’s strongest throws of the season. It gave him six assists this season, which at the time was good for 10th-most in all of baseball among qualified outfielders.
Recognizing the value of his arm, Verdugo has volunteered to pitch for the Dodgers in the event manager Dave Roberts opts to send a position player to the mound.
Of course, Verdugo’s season ultimately came to a premature end due to a right oblique strain that brought about back trouble. Verdugo last played in a game on Aug. 4 but hopes to return if the Dodgers advance to the NLCS.