The Los Angeles Dodgers went into the 2023 regular season with some new faces on the roster, a few veterans, and a pair of dazzling rookies in James Outman and Miguel Vargas.
Outman provided a glimpse into how special his bat can be after a short outburst of power upon making his MLB debut last year before returning to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Up until this point, he’s continued where he left off by hitting the ground running from Opening Day.
Unfortunately for Vargas, he was drilled by pitches on his right hand during Spring Training and early into the regular season. That is believed to have played a part in his slow start, but the calendar turning to May has brought about improved results for the rookie.
Vargas looks as if the confidence he expressed following a three-double performance against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 2 was a breakout-game, and he explained recent changes are paying off as well, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
Instead of starting with his hands frozen in place, he has added more movement to his setup as a way to free up his athleticism and enable him to attack more pitches.
“I’m just trying to get more rhythm in the box,” he said. “I was getting stuck so now I’m trying to get more rhythm in the box.”
Vargas went on to add the hairline fracture in his right pinky and getting hit in the thumb were not reasons behind his slow start:
He jokes that “I still have three more fingers to go” and dismisses the hand injuries as part of the reason he got off to a slow start. “Maybe to you but I don’t think about that as excuses,” he said. “I just try to go out and compete every day. Now we’ve figured out something new.”
Vargas ranks in the 93rd percentile in chase rate, while ranking fourth among all second basemen in hard hit rate. The most glaring stat for his improvement in recent weeks has been an increase in barrel percentage.
In 34 at-bats during the month of May he’s posted a 148 wRC+ with seven extra-base hits.
Miguel Vargas caps off road trip with homers in back-to-back games
Just as the Dodgers did against the San Diego Padres, they dropped the first of three games against the Milwaukee Brewers, but battled back to win the next two.
Winning their second straight series over two difficult opponents meant a great deal to their place in the National League West standings, and also to the confidence of different players on the roster. Vargas is one of those who factored into the series win in Milwaukee, homering on Tuesday and Wednesday to round out the road trip.
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