Alex Verdugo's Production Will Be Crucial to Red Sox Success


After the first couple weeks of the 2021 season, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts have been the hottest bats in Boston's lineup.  Rafael Devers is also starting to come around, as he is 10-for-28 over the last seven games.  He also boasted a six-game hitting streak prior to Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Twins.  

Photo courtesy of: Brian Fluharty - USA TODAY Sports 

High levels of production from Martinez, Bogaerts and Devers come as no surprise.  All three hit over .300 back in 2019, the most recent "normal" season prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Surrounding this trio, Boston has a plethora of fringe players that can make or break the Red Sox this summer.  There is one player in particular that many believe could be the true difference maker this year, and after a rocky start, he's finally starting to show that his play can in fact kick this team into a new gear. 

Photo courtesy of: Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Alex Verdugo came to Boston as part of the trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers back in February of 2020.  Fans had a hard time processing the trade, and with good reason. 

Betts was seemingly a cornerstone of the organization and was arguably the best hitter in baseball after he hit .346 with 32 home runs and 80 RBI in 2018.  After finishing in the top 10 in AL MVP voting the two years prior, Betts finally took home the hardware en route to a World Series championship that year.  The four-time All-Star was starting to cement his legacy in the history books just after his 25th birthday. 

But just like that, he was out of Boston and in came Verdugo.  Almost instantaneously he was compared to Betts.  Despite all the noise and COVID-19 trimming the season to 60 games, Verdugo played well during his first year with the Red Sox.  He hit .308 with six home runs and 15 RBI, while also frequently flashing the leather in the outfield. 

While he might not have started his career in Boston with an MVP award, Verdugo showed Red Sox fans that the void left by Betts maybe wasn't as big as it originally looked.  He was not there to serve as a replacement, and he specifically stated that following the team's 5-3 win against the Blue Jays on Aug. 7, 2020.  He was there to play his game, and he did just that. 

After playing in 53 games last season, this year was going to be looked at as the true test for Verdugo.  It was clear that he could produce, but could he do so for the entirety of a 162-game season?

You obviously can't judge a player's entire season on their first three games, but if you could, Verdugo would have been in trouble.  He went 0-for-11 in the opening series against Baltimore and never reached base. 

It was a brutal series for not only Verdugo, but the team as a whole.  Since then, Boston has flipped a switch and has won nine out of its last 10.  And when the team changed for the better, so did the 24-year-old outfielder. 

In his last nine games, Verdugo is 13-for-37 (.351) with a pair of home runs and 11 RBI.  He really made his presence known during the doubleheader on Wednesday, as he made the game-winning catch in the first game before going 3-for-4 with a home run in the second. 

Verdugo continued to stay in the zone less than 24 hours later when he put up the best at-bat of the season thus far.  With the team down 3-0 in the top of the eighth, he came up to the dish with the bases loaded against Taylor Rogers, who had surrendered three hits and struck out five through his first five innings of work of the 2021 campaign.

After a 10-pitch battle, Verdugo went to the opposite field for a three-RBI double to tie the ballgame.  Boston would go on to lose on a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth, but Verdugo's at-bat was nothing short of amazing. 

Aside from his legitimate talent, Verdugo brings fire, passion and energy to a Red Sox team that is coming off an all-around horrific season.  He wears his emotions on his sleeve.  Whenever he finds a way to get on base, chances are you are going to witness some type of celebration.  If he makes a great play in the outfield, he'll make sure people know about it.  Verdugo gives this team a jolt and some personality, something that Boston was never really able to firmly establish last year. 

Ten-pitch at-bats, game winning-catches in the outfield and playing every game like it's your last are the types of things that could take the Red Sox to new heights this season.  Verdugo checks all those boxes, and he's going to need to continue to if Boston wants to be playing in October. 

We are going to get a better idea of who Alex Verdugo really is over these next 149 games.  With such a long season, there are always going to be ups and downs.  If Verdugo can ride the ups and limit the downs, this team is going to go far.  He has the chance to be the final piece of a potential four-headed offensive monster along with Bogaerts, Martinez and Devers. 

Photo courtesy of: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Mookie Betts made a name for himself in Boston.  Now it's Alex Verdugo's turn.  If he wants to break out from behind Betts' shadow, this is the year to do so.  No matter what happens, Verdugo is going to stay true to himself and his own game, a game that is going to be critical to the amount of success this team sees in 2021. 

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Alex Verdugo's Production Will Be Crucial to Red Sox Success
Alex Verdugo's Production Will Be Crucial to Red Sox Success
Boston Sports Syndicate
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