Mookie Betts

© Sarah Morris, 2020

When the Boston Red Sox traded right fielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, many baseball-knowledgeable people, who follow the Dodgers, thought Betts would make the difference from the Dodgers being a good team to a great team. These people had true foresight.

When the Dodgers acquired Betts, I was skeptical. In my 43 years of baseball experience, many five-tool players typically underachieved. Betts has never underachieved. He has the sixth tool, encouraging his teammates to their best.

Betts already has won his fifth consecutive Gold Glove for his play in right field. Routinely, Betts made spectacular plays. No smart runner would attempt to take an extra base on Betts with his strong accurate throwing arm. His throwing arm reminds Dodger fans of Yasiel Puig’s arm, but Betts never threw to the wrong base or missed a cutoff man.

Offensively, Betts gave the Dodgers an old-fashioned leadoff hitter with incredible power. Although the Dodgers hoped right-handed Betts would help his team fare better against left-handed pitching than in the past, Betts’ batting average against southpaw pitching was .200. His batting average against right-handed pitching was .323.

When Betts did not get a hit, the Dodgers usually did not win the game. His sixteen home runs led the Dodgers. His 39 RBI helped the Dodger offense to dominate most of their opponents. It seemed like Betts was always on base so that his .366 on-base percentage is not surprising.

Although Betts did not seem as dynamic during the 2020 postseason as he was in the regular season, he had a .296 batting average and a .378 on-base percentage. During the regular season, he seldom stole a base but did score from second base on a wild pitch. Nevertheless, in the postseason, Betts’ speed enabled the Dodgers to win many games. He stole 6 bases.

When the Dodgers extended Betts’ contract for 12 years $392 million on the day before the 2020 Opening Day, I thought Dodger President Andrew Friedman lost his mind. Now, I can see why the Dodgers took a huge chance on Betts. Betts is a five-tool player with supreme baseball intelligence. Barring a serious injury, Betts shall play an integral role on the Dodgers.

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