Dodgers Rookie Miguel Vargas Maintaining Confidence During Slump

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Early into this past offseason it became apparent the Los Angeles Dodgers planned for Miguel Vargas to take on an everyday role with the team in 2023.

Not only did it represent Vargas’ biggest opportunity yet at the Major League level, but it also encompassed the rookie learning a new position as he was shifted to second base. Growing pains were expected, but those figured to be offset by Vargas’ hit tool.

Instead, Vargas has performed well at second base while his struggles have oddly come with production at the plate.

Vargas expressed some surprise over not hitting well but noted his confidence remains intact as he tries to improve, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:

“I feel like I’m seeing pitchers well, but I’ve been missing a lot of pitches in the zone,” Vargas said. “Sometimes in the big leagues, you only get one pitch, and if you miss it, it sucks. But I don’t feel like I’ve lost my confidence, and that’s what matters for me.”

Entering play Thursday, Vargas has just nine hits in his last 74 at-bats. His recent at-bats have resulted in an abnormal amount of pop-ups, just like a stretch fellow rookie James Outman endured. Vargas however, is getting beat by fastballs, while also popping up 9.1% of the time, the 33rd-highest rate in baseball.

Since June 2, he’s posted a 44 wRC+ with just four extra-base hits. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently said Vargas would likely receive more off days as he continues to work through struggling.

What could be wrong with Miguel Vargas?

Vargas’ approach of having incredible patience at the plate has kept him in the 90th percentile of chase rate, which is phenomenal, but also detrimental because of how it has put him off-kilter. His in-zone swing and miss rate is 17.5%, which falls in the top-100 of qualified hitters.

One of Vargas’ largest issues falls in his inability to get on top of pitches in the heart of the strike zone, and his growing struggles against fastballs. Vargas is seeing 64% fastballs this season, while logging a .190 batting average on that pitch.

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