Alex Verdugo - on-field discussion thread

nvalvo

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Mookie is not a "7-8 WAR player"
He's been over 6.4 WAR once in his career. He might do it again but that's not the patter of his production. 2016 - 6.4 WAR, 2017 3.3 WAR, 2018 8.7 WAR, 2019 5.2 WAR. He's a terrific player but let's not exaggerate.
Where are these numbers from?

Fangraphs, 2014-: 1.8, 4.8, 8.3, 5.3, 10.4, 6.6, 2.3 (so far), averaging 7.1 in complete seasons
B-R, 2014-: 2.3, 6.1, 9.5, 6.3, 10.6, 6.9, 2.6 (so far), averaging 7.9 in complete seasons.

edit: Looks like you're reading the oWAR from baseball-reference, not the WAR, and Mookie is, uhh, a pretty good defender.
 

54thMA

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Um... David Ortiz was 40 years old, he led the league in Doubles, RBI, SLG, and OPS. He went to the All-Star game and was a legitimate MVP candidate. It's one the the greatest 40 year old seasons in the history of the sport...

To consider it anything other than a high note would be lunacy
Um...........ok, thanks for chiming in.
 

Earthbound64

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All things end badly or they wouldn't end.
All of that said; the Red Sox got swept by the Indians in the ALDS in his final year, Ortiz hit .111, going 1-9, his lone hit was a double.

Is that your version of going out on a high note?
So you think the reason his career ended was because of that?
Since, that's what you said - that the bad ending is why it ended.
 

jon abbey

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John Elway won Super Bowls his last two seasons and retired immediately after. That sounds like one of those cliches that would be OK if you just change 'All' to 'Most'.
 

A Bad Man

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Highly unlikely we get Verdugo without the back issue and character concerns. It was a lovely buy low.

I would argue that Mookie is at the end of his prime, not the beginning. Primes are not what they used to be (27-30, say). This is an older study from 2013, but Zimmerman's points are I think still relevant. Essentially, it's all downhill after 25-26. A player's prime, now, is something like 21-26.

Edit: a hitter's prime, I should say. Pitching is another matter.
 
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Bergs

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John Elway won Super Bowls his last two seasons and retired immediately after. That sounds like one of those cliches that would be OK if you just change 'All' to 'Most'.
Guys....it's a movie quote. Jesus.
 

nighthob

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Admitting that you’ve watched Cocktails enough to quote it is akin to admitting that you own every Billy Joel album and concert video.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Admitting that you’ve watched Cocktails enough to quote it is akin to admitting that you own every Billy Joel album and concert video.
First, it's Cocktail. No S.
Second, it's a glorious 80s movie and peak Cruise dialed up to insane, falling directly in the middle of a two year, five movie peak of Top Gun, Color of Money, Cocktail, Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July. That's pretty much every flavor of Cruise, minus action hero/secret agent.
In short, not knowing any quotes from Cocktail is akin to being completely soulless or unable to enjoy life.
 

Manramsclan

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In short, not knowing any quotes from Cocktail is akin to being completely soulless or unable to enjoy life.
"There's nothing inanimate about Coral."

Verdugo is at again. Hustles his ass off for an infield hit. Steals second. Goes to third on a Xander ground out and is left there by J.D.

Against all odds* he is becoming one of my favorite players on this team. He's good guys.

*Please don't ask me to quote this 80s movie
 
Of course, but the talk of Verdugo as 80% of Mookie is just wacky. Verdugo has had a nice start but we have people extrapolating a 40 game sample into a year, and then that year into a cheap 5 year run of excellence.

Verdugo's chances of flaming out into nothing are as good as him becoming a consistent 4-5 win player. I honestly don't say that as a knock on Verdugo, I just think people are not fully understanding how different it is to be a multi-year consistent MVP level player versus a promising but largely unproven young player. The error bars are relatively small on the former and massive on the latter.
I think two separate questions are being discussed at the same time here. They are both important and worthy of teasing out.

On the one hand, we're talking about the on field performance of these two players, and I completely agree with @radsoxfan that some of the excitement in this thread has gone too far. Verdugo has shown the potential to be very good over a short stretch and he comes with an impressive minor league track record. He could very well prove to be an excellent, all-star caliber player but like @radsoxfan suggests it's ridiculous to be projecting that level of sustained performance over the length of his pre-FA years. What Mookie will provide over the near term is a much safer bet.

On the other hand, we're talking about value relative to cost: a very different question. If we only consider the current year of Mookie's deal, then I'd argue that the value proposition is clearly in the Red Sox' favor as the Sox weren't going anywhere with or without Mookie this year, and any future value that the team gets out of Verdugo etc. is pure gravy. If we consider Mookie's full contract then it gets a lot murkier, but I can't agree with @radsoxfan 's premise that Mookie comes with smaller error bars in the context of his entire career. @radsoxfan , I know you weren't explicitly arguing this but in the context of the discussion it's a relevant take to consider even if you weren't fully intending it. For Mookie's deal to be worthwhile he has to perform. Lack of performance, whether it's due to injury, random variance or age-related decline, carries a substantial downside risk. If Mookie sustains his performance on the high end of what might be expected over time the upside is limited by the cost of the deal. Verdugo (and the rest of the return) do not carry this downside risk. If they don't perform, they simply won't get paid (much). I suppose there is some risk of a player setting their arb floor high and then performing poorly afterward, but even in this case the damage is nothing compared to what a few poor or lost years could do to the value proposition of Mookie's contract. In that sense, the return that the Sox got has very little downside risk and a high potential upside. So in this case I don't think we can say the error bars are smaller for Mookie. If anything, over the length of the deal I think the error bars are a lot larger for that contract.

TL;DR: Yes, if you're talking about pure performance Mookie is a much more solid bet to sustain his current level over the next few years than Verdugo is to sustain his performance this season. But if you're talking about value relative to cost, then I'd argue that Verdugo has a much smaller error bar than Mookie due to the nature of Mookie's contract.
 

Twilight

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It's been mentioned before so apologies if this is unnecessary for this audience. I often need to remind myself that you can only put nine guys in the lineup at once, so there is significant value in packing more WAR into one position. It may be harder to quantify, and it may not even constitute a "good deal" for the organization. But if you want to contend, it's important to have a few guys who greatly exceed League average, rather than a lineup full of decent value propositions. Sometimes you can get that extra WAR with pre-arb players, but most teams have to spend to contend eventually. I forget who said it, but (paraphrasing) it's not the high price of superstar talent that kills you; it's the high price of mediocrity.
 

nvalvo

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It's been mentioned before so apologies if this is unnecessary for this audience. I often need to remind myself that you can only put nine guys in the lineup at once, so there is significant value in packing more WAR into one position. It may be harder to quantify, and it may not even constitute a "good deal" for the organization. But if you want to contend, it's important to have a few guys who greatly exceed League average, rather than a lineup full of decent value propositions. Sometimes you can get that extra WAR with pre-arb players, but most teams have to spend to contend eventually. I forget who said it, but (paraphrasing) it's not the high price of superstar talent that kills you; it's the high price of mediocrity.
There is definitely some truth to this, so don't see it as a criticism, but I wonder if it misrepresents our circumstances. We go into next year with perhaps five players plausibly projected at 5 WAR — Sale, Rodriguez, Devers, Bogaerts, and Verdugo — but too few steady regulars — Vazquez, Eovaldi, Perez, Barnes. Bradley (if he returns); who knows what's up with Benintendi. It's not like we have an entire roster of steady, league average players that doom us to 85 wins and missing the Wild Card by two games. We have a core of borderline superstars — one of whom is recuperating from myocarditis; another just started playing catch after elbow surgery — surrounded by Michael Chavis, Ryan Weber, and Chris Mazza.

The Red Sox have positive WAR from their position players this year. Our lineup is in the top ten in wOBA — ahead of both the Yankees and the Rays. Our defense, even, has been average-ish. It helps that fangraphs thinks Christian Vazquez is one of the better defenders in the game at any position.

The problem we have is that circumstances foreseen and unforeseen — trades, injuries, pandemics — put us in a situation where we aren't even close to mediocre on the pitching side of the equation. As a result, our pitching staff is the worst in the big leagues by a wide margin, and by fWAR we're about as far from the second worst (Detroit) as they are from the ninth worst (St. Louis). If we had more mediocrity in our rotation and bullpen we'd be above .500 and on the fringes of the playoff picture. We have thirteen (13) pitchers with FIPs above 6.00 this season, and only one of them is a position player.

Upgrading Verdugo to Betts is obviously desirable for precisely the reason you say: roster spots are scarce! But that said, it's the sort of move you make to make your 106-win team a 110-win team. That's why the Dodgers were willing to spend a lot in prospects and payroll to make it happen.

From where we sit, we need to upgrade the Ryan Webers to — I dunno — Collin McHughs. We need to replace Matt Hall's innings with Darwinzon Hernandez.
 

koufax32

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It's been mentioned before so apologies if this is unnecessary for this audience. I often need to remind myself that you can only put nine guys in the lineup at once, so there is significant value in packing more WAR into one position. It may be harder to quantify, and it may not even constitute a "good deal" for the organization. But if you want to contend, it's important to have a few guys who greatly exceed League average, rather than a lineup full of decent value propositions. Sometimes you can get that extra WAR with pre-arb players, but most teams have to spend to contend eventually. I forget who said it, but (paraphrasing) it's not the high price of superstar talent that kills you; it's the high price of mediocrity.
Branch Rickey?

edit: scratch that. It’s Bill Veeck

It isn’t the high price of stars that is expensive; it’s the high price of mediocrity
 
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BaseballJones

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Verdugo now hitting .326/.381/.511/.893, with 6 hr, 33 runs, 15 doubles in 47 games (178 ab). Project that out over 150 games (that's the number I like to use, figuring most normal players will miss some games for rest, getting nicked up, etc.):

568 ab, 48 2b, 19 hr, 105 r, .326/.381/.511/.893

That's pretty damned solid. Add in good defense and we're looking at a very very nice all-around player. Brings tons of energy as well.
 

A Bad Man

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Dugie's BABIP a little lucky with his EV I think. Still, I love this player. Can't wait to see what Downs can do.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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The guy who has always seemed to me like a close comp for Verdugo is Michael Brantley. Similar offensive profile (good contact, good speed, gap power). Solid D. If he could have that career, with slightly better injury luck, we‘d be happy.
 
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NJ_Sox_Fan

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As someone who believes Mookie never had any intentions on staying here, I am very pleased with the return so far
 

joe dokes

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From some of the reporting it seems as though he's emerging as a vocal leader in the clubhouse. I guess that's cool? And that the vocal leaders from recent years are mostly gone? Anyway, it speaks to his character.
He's like Jonny Gomes, but considerably better at baseball.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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He's like Jonny Gomes, but considerably better at baseball.
Hopefully Verdugo won't get those pesky guys in line at the supermarket who are pointing at him when he has to take care of things man to man, like happened to Gomes (as told by Gomes).
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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He actually seems to me like the version of Benintendi that we were expecting Benintendi to become by this season. He's not (nobody is) Mookie level replacement.
I'm expecting him to put up a season line of around a .875-.900 OPS and 20 HR's. He's fun to watch despite the fucking horrifying facial hair.
 

BaseballJones

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He actually seems to me like the version of Benintendi that we were expecting Benintendi to become by this season. He's not (nobody is) Mookie level replacement.
I'm expecting him to put up a season line of around a .875-.900 OPS and 20 HR's. He's fun to watch despite the fucking horrifying facial hair.
That's actually a good way of putting it. Just for comparison's sake, here are their 2019-2021 numbers (so far on 2021, obviously):

Benintendi: 162 g, 620 ab, 42 2b, 13 hr, 70 rbi, .253/.339/.400/.739, 93 ops+, 1.8 bWAR
Verdugo: 170 g, 588 ab, 42 2b, 20 hr, 67 rbi, .298/.350/.478/.828, 119 ops+, 5.6 bWAR

Obviously Verdugo was never acquired to replace Benintendi but in terms of what kind of player they are, it seems an apt comparison, but Verdugo has simply been a much better version of Benintendi.
 

NJ_Sox_Fan

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He is never going to be Betts, but can he be a guy that can hit .300 and 20HRs? I think so. He appears to be at least decent defensively; again, he won't be Betts, but him plus Downs/Wong for a fraction of the cost seems about as good of a return as you good have hoped for.
 

cournoyer

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I've always liked Verdugo, but that at bat yesterday had me reminiscing on Betts' 13 pitch at bat against Happ in 2018. Different circumstances of course, but coming up in a giant spot like that and coming through against the lefty was an excellent piece of hitting. Just watching him in the box, you knew he was in battle mode. Really impressive.
 

BaseballJones

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Exactly. And as some of believe, this was something Boston kind of had to do. Not to rehash everything but Mookie made it clear he was going to free agency and wasn’t taking an extension unless it was for free market money. Boston needed to be under the luxury tax. The only way Boston could have kept Mookie, really, was to trade him, get under the tax threshold, and hope to re-sign him.

Then Covid hit and Mookie decided to sign an extension with LA. C’est la vie. Honestly, not much to be done about it if you’re Boston. That they got this good of a return was kind of amazing and it looks like it may end up really paying off.
 

Manuel Aristides

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I've always liked Verdugo, but that at bat yesterday had me reminiscing on Betts' 13 pitch at bat against Happ in 2018. Different circumstances of course, but coming up in a giant spot like that and coming through against the lefty was an excellent piece of hitting. Just watching him in the box, you knew he was in battle mode. Really impressive.
This at-bat should be amongst the final nails in the coffin in the idea that Verdugo might need to ride pine against lefties. Thielman isn't a LOOGY or anything, but, letting him hit with the game on the line and JDM available tells you what Cora thinks.
 

cournoyer

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This at-bat should be amongst the final nails in the coffin in the idea that Verdugo might need to ride pine against lefties. Thielman isn't a LOOGY or anything, but, letting him hit with the game on the line and JDM available tells you what Cora thinks.
I agree. Quick nit it was actually Taylor Rogers that Verdugo faced, a different lefty who has a 1.45 FIP this year. He did take Thielbar deep on Wednesday though, a really solid blast to right. He can definitely hang in there against lefties.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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I know I'm getting old and cranky when I cannot bring myself to like this guy solely due to the facial hair and that stupid hat he's wearing. And I still can't get past the sexual assault/filming incident he took part in while in the minors.

All that being said, he's certainly surprised me by how well he plays the game, and how enthusiastic he is.