Through the first two months of his first full Major League season, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo has done a number of things that have impressed his teammates, coaches and fans.
That was again the case on Tuesday night in the Dodgers’ 7-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
With the Dodgers leading 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier roped a double into the gap off Dodgers reliever Dylan Floro.
Verdugo eventually got to the ball and overran it a little bit, and that may have been the reason that Kiermaier attempted to stretch it into a triple. Verdugo came up throwing though and fired an absolute strike to Corey Seager at third to get a huge first out of the inning.
After the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts discussed the arm that Verdugo possesses, and like many other people, he was impressed, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I knew the arm strength was there, some teams wanted to draft him to be a pitcher. The thing is with Alex is that there’s a lot of arm strength but he is very accurate too. Kiermaier put a great at-bat together but for Alex to not quit on the play and make a strong and accurate throw, It could have been a different ballgame.”
It was unknown going into this season how well Verdugo would fare as a center fielder in the big leagues, but he has done an outstanding job filling in for A.J. Pollock since he went down with an injury.
Verdugo is responsible for four defensive runs saved in right field, three in center field and two in left field so far this season, totaling nine in all between the three positions. Basically what that means is that Verdugo has not only been serviceable defensively at all three outfield positions, he has been elite.
Pair that with Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson having positive metrics in the outfield as well and the Dodgers have one of the best defensive outfields in baseball.
Tuesday night’s assist to get Kiermaier was already Verdugo’s third of the season. If he continues to throw runners out then he will quickly get the reputation in the league of having an outstanding arm and runners will stop trying to take extra bases on him, much like is the case for former Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig.