The Dodgers are heading into the 2023 season with quite the youth movement. Miguel Vargas is going to be the starting second baseman; James Outman is going to get the “lion’s share” of at-bats against righties in center field; and Ryan Pepiot and Andre Jackson are opening the season in the rotation and bullpen, respectively. And behind those guys, Gavin Stone looks ready, Bobby Miller will get his opportunity and Michael Busch and Michael Grove should get their chances sooner rather than later.
Suffice to say, the Dodgers are going to have their fair share of candidates to win the Rookie of the Year Award this season, and over at the New York Post, MLB insider Jon Heyman thinks Vargas is going to ultimately take it home. Here’s what he had to say:
“Everybody who comes up with the Dodgers does well, so why not Vargas? They have big expectations both for Vargas in the infield and for James Outman, who looks like the center fielder of the future. Vargas had an unusual spring during which he initially wasn’t allowed to swing due to a hairline fracture in a finger (and still managed a few walks). He looks like a star in the making.”
Vargas is not only going to be competing with some of his Dodger teammates for the award, as there’s some strong candidates in the rest of the National League. Corbin Carroll of the Diamondbacks seems to be the favorite to take home the award, while Jordan Walker of the Cardinals is another top candidate. However, Heyman is going with Vargas, and if you’ve watched him play this spring, it’s easy to see why.
Vargas came into spring training needing to learn a new position, and has made the transition with ease. He’s put in the work to learn from his veteran teammates, mainly Miguel Rojas, and has turned into a more-than-capable defender over at second base. And if he can even be an average defender, his bat — the reason he’s in the big leagues in the first place — will make him more than worthy of the award.
Vargas wasn’t able to swing the bat early in spring due to a right pinky injury, but when the time came, he showed off why he’s a top prospect in the Dodgers organization. His hit tool is as good as it gets, and his ability to put the ball in play has been apparent. He’s also shown off some power in spring, and overall, proved why he’s more than ready to be an everyday player in this Dodgers lineup.
Vargas is going to have a great season — my bold prediction is that he’s going to hit .300 this year — and be an everyday player on one of the best teams in the National League. That’s definitely a recipe to get some recognition when awards season rolls around.
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