ARLINGTON, Texas — Let’s start with a idea that’s been hauled — directly and indirectly — thus frequently by prominent members of those Los Angeles Dodgers it may also be thought of as a statement of truth: Mookie Betts has surpassed expectations.
Now let us consider why this sounds so ridiculous: Andrew Friedman, that the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, gushed fervently and uncharacteristically if he introduced Betts in early February. He joked he had followed his profession so tightly that Betts should think about “a restraining order” and stated Betts could “blush” when he heard how Friedman spoke about him.
Friedman gave up an incredibly talented shortstop prospect along with also a young, controllable, promising outfielder for one season of Betts. Then he signed up Betts into some 12-year, $365 million expansion — the very first nine-figure bargain of Friedman’s tenure — earlier Mookie played a match together with the Dodgers, despite the bleak financial landscape facing the business.
Then Betts surpassed expectations.
It was not just the. 292/. 366/. 562 slash line. Or that the 16 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 55 games. Or that the 3.0 FanGraphs wins over replacement (third greatest among position players) and two. 46 win odds added (ranked fourth).
It’s who Betts went out of himself, stood facing a clubhouse filled with teammates that he hardly understood and stressed the value of information prior to the beginning of spring training. It’s he tasked with Justin Turner to huddle the team together before the National League Division Series and reminded everyone to stay together amid the challenges that awaited them. It’s that he made the mundane drills competitive, that he went out of his way to help Austin Barnes and Gavin Lux — and probably several others — with their swings, and that he set the tone for a lineup that has spent years trying to establish an identity outside of home runs.
It’s that he led in a manner that was sincere and organic, not forceful and contrived.
It’s that he backed it all up with action, seemingly every day.
MORE: Why the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts (ESPN+)
Practically everyone who observed baseball in Los Angeles this summer — fans, media members, coaches, executives, even players — had one similar reaction. It went something like this: I knew Mookie Betts was good. I didn’t know he was THAT good.
“I think the day-in, day-out consistency of what he does on a baseball field separates him,” Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said after Betts seemed to do everything in Game 1 of the World Series. “You might see one game and not really appreciate Mookie to his full potential, but now that we’ve seen it for a full — well, COVID-shortened, but a full season for us — you kind of get to appreciate it.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts saw Betts drive a pitch deep into the left-center-field seats during a nighttime scrimmage shortly after baseball restarted and was stunned to learn someone so small (5-foot-9) could drive baseballs so far. Third-base coach Dino Ebel, who spent a long time working closely with the Angels’ Mike Trout, has often found himself in awe of Betts as a baserunner. Several Dodgers pitchers have commented about how they have never played with a more dynamic right fielder, and some of them shared a clubhouse with Yasiel Puig.
The Dodgers already were a dominant team, the season was only 60 games, and yet Betts made a profound impact that can’t fully be captured by numbers. You had to see it, experience it, every day. Below, we identified 25 ways in which Betts has influenced games in 2020 and divided them among his plethora of tools. (Statistical notes from ESPN Stats & Information)
This postseason, Betts’ launch angle is 20.1 degrees. The league average is 12.7 degrees.
July 29: at Astros
Betts managed only five hits in his first 28 at-bats with the Dodgers. But with the score tied in the 11th inning of an emotional series in Houston, he turned on a 2-0 cutter out over the plate and drove it off the fence in deep left-center field, giving the Dodgers their second of three leads in an eventual win.
Aug. 7: vs. Giants
A swollen left middle finger kept Betts out of the starting lineup for the previous three games, but he returned in the series opener against the Giants, hit a double in the first inning and homered in the fourth, the first of four Dodgers home runs on the afternoon. It gave Betts four consecutive at-bats with an extra-base hit.
Aug. 9: vs. Giants
Leading by a run with two on and one out in the eighth, the Giants brought in right-handed reliever Shaun Anderson to face Betts. And on Anderson’s first pitch, a slider slightly outside, Betts lofted a home run over the fence in left-center field to blow open the game.
Mookie Betts goes off for three home runs in the Dodgers’ dominant win over the Padres.
Aug. 13: vs. Padres
Roberts began the year batting Betts second against righties as a way to stagger his left-handed hitters, but Betts maintained that he felt more comfortable as a leadoff hitter. On this Thursday night, Betts returned to that spot for the first time in 11 days and hit three home runs in the first five innings, joining Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa as the only players with six career three-homer games — and he got there a lot faster than they did. Betts never batted anywhere but leadoff again.
Sept. 13: vs. Astros
Fifth inning, one out, 0-2 count, Dodgers ahead by three runs, Betts goes inside-out on a low changeup and barely lifts it over the fence in right-center field. It was his 15th home run of the year — and his third in five at-bats against Zack Greinke to that point.
Sept. 18: at Rockies
Betts has a home run in the sixth, a two-run triple in the seventh — both with two outs — and seven or more total bases for the fourth time this season. Reminder: Betts gets at least nine games a year at Coors Field once baseball gets back to its normal schedule.
Betts ranks fourth in outfield assists over the past five seasons.
Mookie Betts retrieves the ball in the right-field corner and throws an absolute strike to get Ketel Marte at third.
July 31: at Diamondbacks
Betts had three hits in this game, two for extra bases, but nobody remembers that. They remember The Throw. It was the first inning. Ketel Marte led off with a flare near the right-field line that looked like an easy triple. Then Betts unleashed a jaw-dropping 305-foot throw perfectly placed in Corey Seager’s glove to nail Marte, who was covering more than 28 feet per second. Betts barely reacted. Just another day at the office.
Sept. 2: vs. Diamondbacks
Betts hit another big homer, tying the score at 1 with a drive to center field in the bottom of the ninth. After the game, though, Roberts made sure to mention his two quick throws to the infield that prevented baserunners from tagging up on fly balls — in the second inning with a man on third and in the 10th inning with the go-ahead run on second. The Dodgers won by a run.
Oct. 17: NLCS Game 6 vs. Braves
With the score tied at 1 in the top of the sixth, Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud led off with a liner to deep right field that one-hopped the section of the wall that sits about 330 feet from home plate. It looked like a sure double. But Betts retrieved it quickly and fired a throw to second base that reached 96 mph, forcing d’Arnaud to stop in his tracks. The Braves never scored that inning.
Betts was in the 87th percentile in sprint speed this season, covering 28.3 feet/second (MLB average was 27.0 feet/second).
July 23: vs. Giants
Betts was hitless in the first two at-bats of his Dodgers debut, but he forced a bobble on a semihard grounder to the left side in the fifth inning. In the seventh, after lining a base hit to left and requesting the baseball, Betts was on third with the infield in. He broke immediately on Turner’s grounder off the end of the bat, slid headfirst to barely beat the throw from Giants second baseman Donovan Solano, and gave the Dodgers the lead, igniting a five-run inning.
Playoff mount, program and much more”
July 26: vs. Giants
With Betts on base in the third inning, Giants lefty Drew Smyly hauled to initial four occasions before shooting his third pitch to Max Muncy. Muncy finally struck as Betts swiped second anyhow, prompting Smyly to pitch about Turner with first base open and bringing up reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger, who drove Betts with an RBI single.
Aug. 22: vs. Rockies
Betts started the bottom of the first by fouling off a few two-strike pitches and laying off others close to the borders of the strike zone to operate a walk. He moved first-to-third on Seager’s sharp grounder through the left side, then immediately broke for house if Seager got caught in a rundown between second and first. The Rockies never bothered to throw over. The Dodgers obtained by a run.
Sept. 3: vs. Diamondbacks
Another house run by Betts — a two-run shot at the eighth, the Dodgers’ third of the inning — and also yet another subtle moment that likely was just as important. With that the Dodgers monitoring by a run in the sixth, Betts led off with a base hit at the left-center gap and took second following a first bobble by Rockies centre fielder Kevin Pillar. On another pitch, he scored on a single through the left by Seager to tie the score.
Sept. 16: in Padres
The Dodgers became the first team to clinch a place in the postseason with this Wednesday day at San Diego, and Betts was a nightmare on the foundations. In the very first, he stole second and got to third on a fly ball. In the next, he stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and came a inch off from escaping a rundown in a first break home. In the fifth, he stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw, then scored on a strike.
Sept. 19: in Rockies
This game supplied the arrangement which, to a on the Dodgers, defines Betts as a baserunner. He turned into a tapper to an infield single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on an errant pickoff throw from Rockies reliever Mychal Givens. Then, instead of presume that the drama was Betts maintained his head up, preserved aggressiveness, and if Pillar casually threw the ball back into the infield, Betts broke to get home. A run fabricated, all by himself.
Oct. 14: NLCS Game 3 ) Braves
The Dodgers’ record-breaking 11-run first inning began with Betts, who hardly spat out an infield single following the first outside call was overturned by replay. The Dodgers had a runner to initiate the match whilst monitoring the best-of-seven series 2-0. Considering they believed 10 of these 11 first-inning runs with 2 outs, it was a critical one.
Oct. 20: World Series Game 1 ) Rays
Pick any Betts minute from the World Series opener and you likely would not be incorrect. Perhaps it was he walked, stole a base — and won America that a free taco! — then headed a double steal in the fifth. Or perhaps it was what occurred immediately afterwards, when he awakened home quickly enough to barely beat the throw onto a sharp infield grounder. Or perhaps it had been his opposite-field house run the following inning. As always is the case with Betts, it is difficult to select.
This postseason, Betts is hitting . 327 using a hard-hit speed of 60%, significance chunks struck 95-and mph, good for sixth one of 71 qualifiers, per Statcast.
Aug. 15: at Angels
Betts went 0-for-4 the night following his three-homer functionality, then came back and tied the score twice against the Angels — using a two-out, two-run only at the next along with a leadoff homer in the seventh. The Dodgers proceeded to win with a run in 10 innings. Betts accumulated 21 two-out RBIs during the regular season, five shy of the significant league lead.
Eight months following the blockbuster that delivered Mookie Betts out of Boston into L.A., return in our first impression of this offer.
Aug. 23: vs. Rockies
No big deal — only two homers, two stolen bases, three runs driven in and three runs scored in a rout over one of those Dodgers’ branch competitions. The first homer, his 10th, arrived following not pursuing a slider which tailed off the plate and also to conduct the count full. Betts slugged . 505 with 2 strikes this year, the second-highest markers at the majors. The league typical:. 309.
Sept. 1: vs. Diamondbacks
This marked the fourth consecutive game where Betts worked a stroll. He drew half of these within the span of that stretch along with also the Dodgers finally scored in half of these cases — such as the sixth inning of the game, which helped give the group its 27th win in 37 attempts.
Oct. 6: NLDS Game 1 vs. Padres
Betts accumulated four drops in each of the first three postseason matches to its Dodgers. This one arrived in a 1-1 tie with one on and one out in the sixth. Betts notched the Dodgers’ first hit of the game with a ringing double the left-field line. It compelled the Padres to substitute Garrett Richards with Matt Strahm and triggered the four-run inning that proved to be the gap.
In that the previous five seasons, Betts leads all significant leaguers in defensive functions stored. He has won four straight Gold Gloves, and is a finalist again this year.
Sept. 10: in Diamondbacks
Betts began his first match at second base in six decades. He came up as a middle infielder, and a few weeks before Betts advised Roberts he’d be delighted to fill in at second base in a crisis situation presented itself October. He was nice, as you may anticipate.
Game 1: Dodgers 8, Rays 3
Game two: Rays 6, Dodgers 4
Game 3: Fri. , Oct. 23, 8:08 ET
Game 4: Sat, Oct. 24, 8:08 ET
Game 5: Sun. , Oct. 25, 8:08 ET
Game 6 ): Tue. , Oct. 27, 8:08 ET*
Game 7: Wed. , Oct. 28, 8:09 ET*
All matches Fox and ESPN Radio
Oct. 16: NLCS Game 5 Braves
It has been the third inning. The Braves, a win away in the World Series, led 2-0 with one out and two runners in scoring position. The match was starting to unravel for the Dodgers. Then Betts made a very difficult lunging grab on a sinking line drive directly until it touched the grass and finished the inning with a double play since Marcell Ozuna jumped from third party too early. From there, the Dodgers scored seven unanswered runs.
Oct. 17: NLCS Game 6 vs. Braves
It has been the fifth inning. The Dodgers, a win apart from pushing Game 7, also led 3-0 with one on and 2 outs. Ozuna drove a Walker Buehler offering to deep right field. Betts reunite, jumped off the warning track, twisted in the atmosphere and made a full-extension catch directly up from the weapon, high-stepping at jubilation soon after coming back with it. The Dodgers did not score any runs. They desperately wanted that grab.
Freddie Freeman hits a fly ball into the wall as Mookie Betts jumps to create out the incredible in appropriate field.
Oct. 18: NLCS Game 7 vs. Braves
It has been the fifth inning. The Dodgers, a win away in their third party World Series look in four decades, trailed 3-2 with one out and Roberts already was deep in to his bullpen. Freddie Freeman struck a deep drive that appeared as though it would sail across the fence. But Betts ranged back, timed his leap perfectly and stuck his glove on the 8-foot fencing to rob Freeman of a house run. The Dodgers finally came back to win with a run. It has been Betts’ third game-changing defensive play as many days. And lest you believe Betts did not contribute offensively with all the Dodgers’ season on the line — he reached base via hit or walk in half his 14 plate looks in Games 5-7.