Dave Roberts Believes Miguel Vargas & James Outman Are Influencing Dodgers Lineup

Heading into the 2023 season, one glance at the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup immediately presented a new look. Fresh faces of proven veterans were added during the offseason, but also a number of rookies, including Miguel Vargas and James Outman, got placed directly in the mix.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was tasked with figuring out how to deploy the budding rookies with the understanding that their production would be depended upon. After crossing off two weeks of the schedule, the club holds a 7-6 record, and aside from a few boom-or-bust games, the offense has shown some fantastic qualities.

The Dodgers rank second in baseball with a 128 wRC+ and .360 on-base percentage. But their Major League-leading 14.1% walk rate is a heavy contributor to having ample scoring opportunities.

Roberts shared his belief much of that has stemmed from Outman and Vargas having an influence on the rest of the Dodgers lineup, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“For me, just Vargas and Outman, to be able to take walks and have good at-bats, I think in some ironic way it’s kind of incentivizing the veteran players to have those same type of at-bats and take walks when they’re presented,” Roberts said.

The Dodgers lead MLB with 72 walks, highlighting the patience they’re displaying on a nightly basis. Vargas’ season is interesting, considering his batting average is .200, but he has a .475 on-base percentage because of a team-leading 13 walks.

Vargas has shown early proficiency in staying within the strike zone and choosing his spots. Outman on the other hand is breaking out in both the power department and with his plate discipline. On the year, the lefty has posted a .289/.438/.684 batting line with three homers, 10 RBI and nine walks.

Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Max Muncy have their own high-quality zone awareness, but slotting in Outman and Vargas throughout the lineup creates a scenario that pitchers will truly need to attack in order to get them out.

Miguel Vargas likely benefitting from not swinging

One common thread shared by Roberts and Vargas is that his plate discipline likely can be traced to the period during Spring Training when he could not swing a bat in games while still recovering from a fractured right pinky.

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