Dodgers: The Mookie Betts-Mike Trout conversation definitely needs to happen

Thomas Carannante
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 20: Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a single against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning in Game One of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 20, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 20: Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a single against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning in Game One of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 20, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Mookie Betts is stealing the spotlight for the Dodgers in the World Series.

It’s funny how discussions are treated across different sports. LeBron James? Oh, well he’s not the best ever because he doesn’t have six rings like Michael Jordan. It’s all about the rings, baby! In the NFL? It’s all about Super Bowls and literally nothing else. Peyton Manning, despite being arguably the best quarterback of all time, was labeled a choke for most of his career, regardless of the amount of records he held.

But baseball? Let’s talk WAR and OPS. Forget about World Series rings or postseason performance. Why does it matter? Mike Trout is the best player because he is. That’s what the STATS say! Now get off my lawn!

No, but seriously, why can’t we talk about Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts potentially supplanting Trout as the best player in baseball when we look at the larger body of work? Playoff performance should be included in that. What if LeBron had zero rings? Do his regular-season triple-doubles matter?

Yes, we should enjoy it, but let’s stop anointing Trout as the best player this sport has ever seen without a challenger. WAR doesn’t measure everything. Trout also has three more years on Betts, and Betts has played in 31 more postseason games. By the end of this, he could have two more World Series rings, too.

Trout is batting .083 in his three-game postseason career. Betts — yes, perhaps we’re freaking out a bit much over his performance in Game 1 of the World Series — is slashing .263/.354/.401 across his 34 career playoff games. Not the sexiest, but it’s production, and it’s gotten him atop the sport.

He’s an MVP, too! He was an MVP on the best team in baseball in 2018, and he also won the batting title. Trout has three MVPs, which is beyond admirable, but only one of them came when his team made the playoffs in 2014. The other two times? He was tops in 2016, when the Angels were 74-88, and in 2019, when they were 72-90.

Betts is also a four-time Gold Glover. Trout is a zero-time Gold Glover. Why aren’t we invalidating Trout’s defense? Shouldn’t people be doing that if this is the information we have laid out in front of us?

What about clutch stats? Aren’t those important? Let’s dive into those:

  • Betts with two outs and RISP: .338/.459/.588 with 178 runs scored, 14 home runs, 146 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 311 at-bats
  • Trout with two outs and RISP: .264/.464/.446 with 231 runs scored, 14 home runs, 149 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 383 at-bats
  • Betts in late and close situations: .292/.385/.542 with 95 runs scored, 24 home runs, 82 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 489 at-bats
  • Mike Trout in late and close situations: .247/.408/.467 with 133 runs scored, 31 home runs, 111 RBI and 31 stolen bases in 623 at-bats

Looks like Betts has the edge there, and in fewer at-bats! Why don’t we talk about this? Why is it just WAR?

Betts continually producing as one of the league’s best players on World Series-contending teams has to hold some value and bump him above Trout in some capacity. And there is an argument to be had about Betts being the bigger generational star. He’s been on television more often. He’s delivered in front of a national audience more times.

So explain, why can’t this be a discussion while we enjoy what’s happening?

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