Dodgers News: Rookie Miguel Vargas Will Be Wearing a New Number in 2023
Dodgers rookie Miguel Vargas has chosen a new uniform number, and he’ll be switching from number 71 to number 17 in 2023.
When Miguel Vargas made his big-league debut with the Dodgers last year, he wore a random high number assigned to him by the clubhouse manager. In Vargas’s case, it was number 71. It’s kind of a rite of passage to make the big leagues and wear an offensive lineman’s number. Some players keep their high numbers — Yasiel Puig wore number 66 throughout his career, and Dustin May is still number 85 — while others change as early as possible — Clayton Kershaw wore number 54 for all of one start before changing to 22.
Vargas is slated to be the starting second baseman for Los Angeles this season, and along with that starting role comes the opportunity to choose his own number. Vargas just flipped his lineman number around, as he’ll wear 17 in 2023.
The Dodgers have had someone wear number 17 every year since 2001. The most notable recent bearer of the number was AJ Ellis, who spent seven years wearing the number while catching for LA. Tom Paciorek wore 17 from 1971-75, after having worn number 53 in 1970 — Paciorek is the only Dodger to wear 53 after Don Drysdale, which is probably more interesting if you’re in the middle of writing a book about retired numbers like I am.
The greatest Dodger to wear number 17 was Carl Erskine, who wore it for his entire Dodgers career from 1948-59. Baseball-Reference says Erskine wore number 11 in 1950, but it also says Jack Banta, Al Epperly, and Joe Landrum wore 11 that year, so maybe it was like in high school when one kid brings a bright Hawaiian shirt on picture day and all the cool kids show up in the yearbook wearing the same shirt.
Anyway, the point is that Vargas will be wearing number 17 when he wins the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2023, and while he’ll be the 40th Dodger to wear the number and the 19th to win the RoY, he’ll be the first to do both in the same season.