Can Alex Verdugo rank high on MVP ballots?
The top vote-getter in 2020 for Boston was the previously mentioned Alex Verdugo who was more than a pleasant surprise for Red Sox Nation. The most notable is Verdugo has a healthy dose of Trot Nixon dirt dog DNA in him. He plays hard and it shows in his personality and fans respond to his style and replacing Betts is no mean chore – he won over RSN.
Defensively Verdugo is very good and potentially could be great. In 2020 a 0.8 UZR/150 is not in Betts or Dwight Evans territory, but Verdugo has mastered the right field at Fenway Park, has an arm that makes runners cautious going from first to third, and can go to his right to cover gaps. Verdugo also played left field where his metrics improved to a 4.2 UZR/150. Apparently with Verdugo walls are just an impediment to catching a fly ball or line drive.
Verdugo’s 1.6 fWAR was just behind Bogaerts and Verdugo’s .308 batting average was best on the team (min AB). The lefty-hitting Verdugo showed no liability against southpaws hitting them at a .320 clip versus .302 against righties. This has been a pattern in Verdugo’s short career and Verdugo – now 24-years-old – will have to pick it up a notch or two in the power department to impress voters.
In 2020 Verdugo slammed six home runs and had just 15 RBI – two “meh” figures. But with his dynamic style of play and high energy he has the big potential to catch the eye of the voters. Having Alex Cora as his manager may only expand on his abilities as we all know the young skipper has a way of connecting with his players.