Miguel Vargas' unconventional Dodgers spring training might've turned him into a walk machine
By Adam Weinrib
Many throughout the league snickered at the Los Angeles Dodgers for playing rookie Miguel Vargas during the early weeks of spring training while simultaneously banning him from swinging the bat. Some veterans on other teams had their fun; Zack Greinke famously lobbed a lollipop in, knowing full well there was nothing Vargas could do about it.
Glad they laughed then, though. Because, now that the regular season has opened, they certainly aren't laughing anymore.
Vargas' bat has contributed to the Dodgers' league-leading run differential in the early going (+22 through five games). His keen eye, too, has helped fuel LA's offense.
Who knows? Maybe he was born with it, but maybe that eye was further developed this spring when he was banned from swinging the bat ... and still managed to take four walks in his first eight plate appearances while nursing a hairline fracture in his pinky.
Though it's still early, Vargas recorded a remarkable nine walks through his first 18 plate appearances of the season. His seven walks through three games matches Gil Hodges in 1958 as the Dodgers' highest total to open a season. The craziest part? He only walked 45 times in 542 plate appearances across two levels in 2021! He's literally becoming this guy before our eyes. Something clicked, and that something is crazy.
Miguel Vargas injury led to league-leading walk totals for Dodgers
Now, it's time for the Dodgers to cross their fingers and hope that Vargas' new injury -- a bum thumb due to a hit by pitch on Monday -- doesn't hinder his efforts moving forward.
Although maybe Vargas is like a superhero? Maybe ... when one of his skills is cut off, the others prosper? Plug up his nose and his eyesight becomes keener? That kind of thing? Maybe the Dodgers should just keep experimenting and seeing what they're able to heighten from within their own, personal X-Man.