The Los Angeles Dodgers enjoyed plenty of great performances in 2019, with one of the most surprising coming from Alex Verdugo. In his first regular role on a Major League team, Verdugo crushed the ball at the plate and provided great defense as well.
The young outfielder began the season as an option off the bench but played his way into more starting opportunities and that led to earning the starting job in center field while A.J. Pollock recovered from elbow surgery.
Verdugo batted .303/.350/.489 with 20 doubles, nine home runs and 39 RBI through the first half of the season. Though impressive, the rookie was hardly complacent.
During an in-season interview with SportsNet LA, Verdugo specifically pointed to base stealing as an area he sought to improve on:
“Probably just be more aggressive stealing bases. I don’t want to make an out on the basepaths, so I feel at certain points I’m a little gun shy at taking my chances of stealing. Other than that, I feel like everything just kind of needs to improve throughout. The pitchers adjust to you, you adjust to them. I think so far it’s really the base stealing.”
Verdugo finished with just four stolen bases (caught stealing once) over 106 games. He was caught stealing on his lone attempt in 2017 and didn’t attempt to run during his brief time with the Dodgers last year.
The most stolen bases Verdugo has had in his professional career is 14. He reached that mark in 2015 while playing for Low-A Great Lakes and High-A Rancho Cucamonga.
While the 23-year-old had a desire to improve his baserunning, the Dodgers missed Verdugo’s overall play down the stretch and into the postseason. He landed on the 10-day injured list because of an oblique strain, then suffered a setback while on rehab assignment.
Verdguo managed to overcome the oblique issue but was slowed by back trouble from discomfort he initially experienced after the Dodgers’ visit to Tropicana Field in May. The team initially maintained Verdugo would possibly return by the start of the postseason.
That was then pushed back to the National League Championship Series before Verdugo playing again in 2019 being ruled out all together. Of course, it ultimately proved to be a moot point as the Dodgers failed to get out of the first round.