Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo
Red Sox fans may never be able to get over the Mookie Betts trade but the emergence of Alex Verdugo has helped take the sting out of losing their franchise player.
Verdugo made a strong first impression in his first season in Boston, ranking fifth in the American League with a .308 batting average while also setting a career-high with a .844 OPS.
He somewhat reluctantly took over the lead-off hitter role when Andrew Benintendi was struggling and later hit the injured list. Verdugo thrived at the top of the order and now appears to be one of the game’s better lead-off hitters.
We can’t expect him to ever challenge Betts for his collection of Gold Glove awards but Verdugo proved to be a very good defensive player, posting seven defensive runs saved in time split between all three outfield spots.
FanGraphs valued Verdugo at 1.6 WAR, which tied for 18th in the AL and trailed only Bogaerts (1.9 WAR) on the team. The 24-year-old faced a difficult challenge switching leagues and being asked to fill the shoes of a former MVP but he more than lived up to the task. Verdugo exceeded expectations and was arguably the second-best player on the team.
Verdugo brings an infectious amount of energy that gives the Red Sox a spark plug at the top of the lineup and a welcome addition in the clubhouse. Betts will clearly be missed but fans will enjoy watching Verdugo develop into a star.