Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Short Answer


Mookie Betts is at a point where if he retired today, he'd be a Hall of Famer. 2 rings, a 7-year run of ASG appearances, an MVP, and someone who has been routinely listed among the best players in the game. The closest thing he's had to a down season was his 4.0 WAR year in 2021, which was, at the very least, followed by two consecutive years where he hit 35+ home runs. 

Mookie Betts, at 31, has done it all, performed to the highest level, and cemented his status as one of the foremost figures of his era of baseball. And now, 10 years into his career, he's switching from outfield to shortstop.

This isn't completely unwarranted, he's played 2nd base the last couple years for LA, but this season began with Dave Roberts naming Betts the starting shortstop. Now, I can kind of see why, seeing at, in the absence of Gavin Lux last year, both middle infield options, Miguel Vargas and Miguel Rojas, underperformed. Lux is back this year, but he's still not a proven option, and Rojas seems to be shifting into a depth backup option, which cannot help his self-esteem considering the smack Jazz Chisholm has been talking. And then you have to figure that they wanna leave room not only for Teoscar Hernandez but for Andy Pages, who is up, even if he's not 100% killing it yet. And seeing that Betts can definitely play 2nd, even if he isn't a gold glover there, shortstop wasn't exactly out of the question.

So far, the 'Betts at shortstop' era of Dodgers baseball has been going well, mostly due to the fact that Betts is still an outstanding hitter. Dude's hitting .347 with 19 RBIs and 6 homers. His 2.2 WAR, before the month of April is even over, is a league high. To give you an idea, Shohei Ohtani is hitting .264 with 6 homers and 14 RBIs and he isn't even the most valuable Dodger right now. Betts' defense seems to be higher quality at short than his 2nd base material, just from what we've seen already. It is wild to see a player widely considered one of the best in the game evolve yet again defensively, but here we are.

Betts is the showiest of the Dodgers' Big 3 right now, but he's certainly not the only noisemaker. Ohtani of course makes the news by breathing, and Freddie Freeman's still hitting .297 with 13 RBIs, even if they're a little below his peak. What's been worrying has been the number of games where the heart of the lineup can't do anything, hence the 11 losses, as well as some of the troubles of having a rotation besieged by injury, but this is still a 1st place Dodgers team with their biggest players performing to high degrees, so they at least have that.

If this is what Mookie Betts is playing like after 10 years, I cannot imagine what he'll have done by the time he retires.

Coming Tonight: Ironically a former Dodgers infielder, who's been off to an excellent start for a new team.

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