Red Sox bold player prediction 2021: Alex Verdugo establishes himself

MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 15: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox at bat against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 15, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 15: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox at bat against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 15, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

As the key trade package that came back to the Boston Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade, Alex Verdugo was always going to play under an extra-strong microscope in Boston. It was a tough situation, to say the least, but he came out of 2020 as a certified future star for the team. But can he keep it up in 2021?

Verdugo is a guy who likes to have fun on the field and that certainly showed even in a park filled with no one. That is something fans will appreciate about him and perhaps eased up that pressure from the Betts trade. And it should stay that way moving forward as a big season should be in-store for 2021.

Alex Verdugo is expected to have a big season for the Boston Red Sox in 2021

The Red Sox outfielder showed up and showed out in 2020 after being eased into the lineup following an injury that delayed his start. While batting average, by no means, is a massive metric in baseball nowadays, he had that above the 300 mark with a .308 batting average. He showed a flash of power with six home runs and 16 doubles in 53 games.

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The statistic most important, OPS, also remained impressive as he built upon every single season in the majors.

The .844 OPS is a great number to build on and if he enters the .900 range, it will be another year where Red Sox fans could get on the bandwagon of Verdugo once and for all.

Alex Verdugo season predictions for 2021

Verdugo should be around the .280 to .320 range when it comes to his batting average. As a career .290 hitter, it seems reasonable that he could continue to improve on that number inside Fenway Park during a full season.

The outfielder isn’t necessarily seen as this massive power hitter by any means but his improvement with the bat overall has to excite fans. With the six home run mark over 53 games, that averages out to him approaching the 15-20 mark over a full season. The most slugger hit in his career when it comes to single-season marks is 12 through 106 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2019. As the expected top-of-the-order guy, home runs shouldn’t matter as long as he can get on base.

As eluded to before, the biggest statistic for Verdugo and really anyone in baseball will be the on-base plus slugging (OPS). His overall impressiveness in getting extra-base hits last season should help his slugging remain rather high and his great eye for the ball should help the on-base as well. It’s safe to assume anywhere in the .800 range but as said before jumping to the .900 range isn’t out of the possibilities here. Verdugo is a talented guy only getting better with age.

What may have shocked many fans was his work in the outfield last year, fitting right into the theme of the Red Sox have an extraordinary defensive outfield. Well, with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi now on their respective new clubs, it seems it will be down to Verdugo to carry the weight out there.

Reports have stated the 24-year-old will be playing center field to start the season with a possible switch back to a corner spot if and when Jarren Duran is ready to join the major league squad. Expect him to not only be solid out there but possibly win the position for the foreseeable future if he can perform as hoped for.

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Verdugo is going to be one of the best players on the Red Sox this season as long as he can stay healthy and mesh with new coach Alex Cora. That should excite Red Sox fans more than ever.