Alex Verdugo powers Red Sox to victory with a massive home run
Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo crushed a pivotal home run
The Boston Red Sox were struggling to find success against Shane Bieber. The former Cy Young award-winner blanked Boston’s bats through the first five innings before they finally broke out in the sixth, culminating in a mammoth three-run home run by Alex Verdugo.
J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts collected base hits to put traffic on the bases for Verdugo with two outs in the inning. Verdugo got ahead in the count 2-0, patiently waiting for his pitch. He found it when Bieber hung a curve over the plate that Verdugo crushed to right field, just shy of the second deck.
The ball traveled 447 feet to put the Red Sox up 3-2 in a game they would go on to win. According to Baseball Savant, the distance on Verdugo’s home run is tied for 37th in the majors this season and trails only Franchy Cordero (448) among Red Sox hitters. This is the furthest ball that Verdugo has hit since 2019.
The exit velocity on Verdugo’s home run was 108.8 mph. Only Rafael Devers (110.9 mph on a single in the eight inning) hit the ball harder in this game.
Verdugo is riding a six-game hitting streak as we approach the end of his best month of the season. He’s batting .304/.360/.456 in June.
While his bat is heating up, the home run power hasn’t been there. This was only Verdugo’s second home run this month and fifth of the season. After starting the season with three home runs in his first eight games, Verdugo went nearly two months before adding another.
Verdugo’s power is slightly above-average, ranking in the 53rd percentile in average exit velocity and 55th percentile in Hard Hit percentage. The lack of home runs is primarily due to Verdugo’s approach at the plate. While many hitters have been caught up in the launch angle craze in recent years, Verdugo’s 7.5 Launch Angle is well below the major league average (12.1). The low launch angle means fewer batted balls classified a barrels, resulting in a below-average Barrel% that ranks in the 40th percentile.
Verdugo is capable of hitting the ball hard but he isn’t hitting it in the air frequently. His 34.1 fly ball percentage is the 23rd-lowest among qualified AL hitters, per FanGraphs.
The approach will lead to fewer home runs but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Verdugo was never going to be a 30+ homer guy. He’s not someone we want swinging for the fences every time.
He puts the ball in play, ranking in the 95th percentile in Whiff% and 97th percentile in K% this season. His .251 batting average doesn’t seem all that impressive but Verdugo’s .287 expected batting average ranks in the 82nd percentile. A .263 BABIP that rates as the 20th-lowest in the league is responsible for an underwhelming batting average.
Fortune hasn’t favored him in terms of the home run ball either. While his swing isn’t tailor made for homers, his total of five is surprisingly low. StatCast has a metric called expected home runs, which projects Verdugo for 9.1 home runs so far this season, nearly double his actual total.
Verdugo might not catch the career-high 13 home runs he hit last year but he should be on pace to shatter that mark based on his xHR rate. Even if he struggles to crack double-digits, Verdugo is still finding ways to be productive.