The Miguel Vargas Experiment is Off to a Great Start for the Dodgers
Dodgers rookie infielder Miguel Vargas leads all of baseball in on-base percentage with a .750 clip. He’s put together a 1.350 OPS in 12 plate appearances. Yes, it’s been just three games, but the Miguel Vargas experiment is a smashing success for LA so far.
The club went into last offseason telling fans the youth movement was coming, in so many words. The top rookie name we heard all winter was Vargas’s. He was at Dodger Stadium working out with Dino Ebel and Gavin Lux. He was in Miami, getting in work with new teammates Miguel Rojas and J.D. Martinez. It became apparent the front office was all in on moving him to second base and letting him run.
So far, he’s running well.
After struggling in 18 games as a big leaguer last season, what changed? Some think that, perhaps, that fractured pinkie finger suffered early in spring training changed his approach and mindset in the box a bit. He was forced to keep the bat on his shoulder for the first six games of the spring. He somehow earned 4 walks during that time even though the league knew he wasn’t swinging.
Now he leads MLB with his 7 walks so far this season. Sure, Vargas sees the value of that time with the bat on his shoulder but doesn’t quite feel that’s why he’s a sudden on-base machine.
“Yeah, for sure. It makes me be more patient at the plate. I saw more pitches … I’m still going to do that (be an aggressive hitter). But they’re not pitching me strikes sometimes.”Via Bill Plunkett, OC Register
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts feels the success is a combination of things. Mainly overall comfort.
“I think there’s a combo of, early on Miguel was forced to just take and see the baseball, taking some walks. That’s one part of it. I think the other part of it is he got his feet wet (at the major-league level) so he’s just more not ‘hair-on-fire’ in the batter’s box. He’s a smart baseball player. He swung the bat more, didn’t walk as much in the minors. But I think he understands the value of 90 feet, taking walks, swinging at strikes and taking balls. I think that combo has led to that.”
Credit is due for the other Miguel too. Miguel Rojas has taken the younger Vargas under his wing and looks at each moment as a teachable opportunity.
The sample size is very small for Vargas. But with every play and every at-bat he takes, he’s looking more and more like a big leaguer — like he belongs. The confidence is almost visible to the naked eye in watching him play right now. And it’s fun to watch.
He’s out of the lineup on Sunday for the first time this season.