Amid Monday night’s 13-4 rout of the Colorado Rockies, Miguel Vargas tallied an RBI single and worked his league-leading ninth walk. The Dodgers infielder has gained a new level of plate discipline entering the 2023 season, working primarily on improving his eye during Spring Training games this offseason.
Shortly after joining the team in Glendale this February, Vargas was struck in the right pinky finger while fielding groundballs, a moment which was later revealed to have caused a hairline fracture. Manager Dave Roberts told reporters the team’s plan was for Vargas to continue allowing him to work defensively at his new position of second base, but he would not be allowed to swing the bat during his plate appearances.
This training regimen allowed Vargas to focus strictly on tracking pitches. During his first four Spring Training games, the 23-year-old infielder came away with a .500 OBP on four walks and four strikeouts. Despite leaving the bat on his shoulder, Vargas reached base as often as he did not, improving his eye against Major League-caliber pitching.
Although the sample size is small, Vargas’ improved plate discipline has shown itself early on this season. Now being cleared to swing the bat, his 7.3% outside-the-zone swing percentage is the lowest in Major League Baseball through five games. Vargas has exhibited elite command of the strike zone so far this season, posting a slash line that includes a league-high .722 on-base percentage.
With his rookie eligibility still intact, Miguel Vargas could make a strong case for National League Rookie of the Year if he continues to play the way he has to begin the year. The hard contact Vargas showcased last season at Triple-A will begin to come together with his control of the strike zone as he grows more comfortable at the Major League level, creating a dangerous combination of plate skills for the Dodgers second baseman.
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