2021 Could Be A Big Year For Alex Verdugoby Jamie Gatlin January 17, 2021 2 comments
For the Boston Red Sox, 2020 was a year to forget. Although the Red Sox finished last in the AL East, there were a few reasons to be hopeful for the future. One bright spot was Alex Verdugo. After being the centerpiece in the Mookie Betts deal, Verdugo arrived in Boston with high expectations. The former top prospect did not put up MVP numbers, but he was one of Boston’s best hitters. As the Red Sox hope to return to the playoffs, Verdugo will be looking to build on his strong 2020 campaign.
In 53 games last year, Verdugo hit .308 and drove in 15 runs. The Arizona native also hit six home runs and tied a career-high with four stolen bases. After spending three years in the National league, Verdugo excelled in the Red Sox lineup. Although Boston dealt with injuries and inconsistency, Verdugo was able to showcase his power and ability to get on base.
Alex Verdugo’s night.
2-3, 2 HR’s, BB, Robbed HR.
— Sports = Life (@SportzzTweetzz) August 8, 2020
Furthermore, Verdugo improved as the season went on. After hitting .273 in July, he hit .313 in August and September. On a Red Sox team that struggled as the season progressed, Verdugo only got better. Regardless of where the Red Sox were in the standings, Verdugo showed up every game, ready to compete.
Additionally, Verdugo was one of the Red Sox best players defensively. The former second-round pick only committed four errors and was a human highlight reel in the outfield. He also recorded seven assists, which was tied for the most in baseball. While the Arizona native saw time at all three outfield positions, he did not commit an error in centerfield.
Where Verdugo Ranks Heading into 2021
Verdugo’s impressive play landed him in elite company. The Red Sox outfielder finished twelfth in the AL MVP vote and led the Red Sox in WAR. On the Shedders list of the best centerfielders in baseball, which is put together by MLB’s research team, Verdugo was number four. Verdugo also has the fourth-highest WAR among centerfielders over the past two seasons.
Alex Verdugo is not down for the cause and that’s ok. Can’t stop this kid pic.twitter.com/UExhyuP1rU
— Section 10 Podcast (@Section10Pod) September 17, 2020
With Spring Training only weeks away, the Red Sox will be expecting Verdugo to repeat last year’s performance. The twenty-four-year-old was a difference-maker in 2020 and could replace Jackie Bradley Jr. in center if he departs in free agency. However, the Red Sox are in good hands with Verdugo whose numbers have improved every year since making his MLB debut.
When Verdugo first arrived in Boston, he faced added pressure to replace one of the game’s best players. However, he did not let the pressure affect him and became one of the Red Sox’s most important pieces. In 2021 Verdugo could be in for a big year as he looks to exceed expectations.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images