Red Sox: Alex Verdugo is the spark Boston needs to win in 2021

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 07: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after robbing a home run in the ninth inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on August 7, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 07: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after robbing a home run in the ninth inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on August 7, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Alex Verdugo is outperforming for the Red Sox

I think it’s safe to say that at this point the Red Sox may have not lost the Mookie Betts trade as much as we all thought they did back when it happened. I remember writing about that trade as the news came across the ticker and I was instantly furious. Who the hell were these guys that Boston got back and why were they worthy of being in a trade for Betts? Well, As we’re closing down the 2020 season and the dust is settling, Alex Verdugo is more than living up to his predecessor.

Now don’t get my previous statement twisted, the only person that can compete with Mookie is Mike Trout. But, I think it’s safe to say that none of us thought we’d be getting this level of play from Verdugo when we were analyzing his stats in the spring. Then add in that he missed a ridiculous amount of time due to a back fracture, I had zero faith in what he would be. I will fully admit right here and now that I was totally wrong about him and I’m not the only one that should be on this stand right now.

Let’s just look at the outfielder’s first full season which was last year, he played in 106 games and finished with a .294/.342/.475/.817 line with 12 homers and 44 RBI. Not bad by any means especially with him missing time due to injury as the year progressed. Now let’s take a look at what he’s done in 2020. My dude is out here with a .326/.381/.511/.893 line with 6 homers and 14 RBI.

Not bad by any means and everything beyond his homers and RBI will be his new career highs. I know this season will have a weird asterisk next to it because it was only 60 games, and we can’t fully evaluate talent through just two months, but I don’t see him being on a weaker pace if it were the full 162. The Red Sox just finished off the Marlins not too long ago and for the second night in a row, Verdugo went 3-4 which now puts him in the team lead for AVG (.326) and Runs (33).

He also added yet another Web-Gem level catch in the outfield to save what could’ve been an extra-base hit. It doesn’t matter if Boston is winning or losing, first inning or the last, he’s out there to give every bit of himself to the team. I don’t think there’s been a single game this season where he wasn’t covered in dirt by the final out. That’s the mentality and aggressiveness on the field that I want to see from this Red Sox team.

Alex Verdugo will be the key to the Red Sox winning in 2021

We all know this season was lost long ago and that we need to turn our sights to the 2021 campaign. There are some faces that may not be with the team next year as free agency, contract options, and opt-outs are looming. But one man will be roaming the outfield at Fenway Park, and that’s number 99, Alex Verdugo. For the most part, the roster feels pretty set going from this year to the next, but there will be some wrenches in the plan. As we’ve seen from Dugie in 2020, he can more than step up and become the spark that this team needs to rise in the standings.

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This won’t be the first time that the Red Sox finished in the basement and if we’ve learned anything from those recent experiences, good things are soon to come to Boston. There’s just something about how Verdugo plays that makes me feel like he’s going to be the one to usher in those times at Fenway. From day one, he’s easily been the one that’s had the most fun on this Red Sox roster, and that behavior and mentality are infectious. The more that he acts that way the looser the rest of the team can become and the wins will start piling back up in Boston.

Obviously he can’t do it alone but if we’re able to have a somewhat regular spring training then I think we will see this team back to what we’ve seen in previous years. Just imagine a lineup where everyone is contributing from the get-go and the runs are showing up again. Verdugo’s bat is one that can lead to that as I’ve already covered in this article, now extrapolate that over an entire season. There’s serious potential for him to be in the end of the year conversations if his 2020 can be stretched over an entire season.

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There haven’t been many things to be happy about in relation to the 2020 Red Sox, but Alex Verdugo is definitely on that list. He’s the type of player that can light the fire under everyone around him and get the momentum back in the way of the team. I’m excited to see what he can do with the last few games of the season and if he can build upon the great foundation he’s started. One thing is for sure though, when the team arrives at Jet Blue Park next spring, all eyes will be on number 99.