Dodgers: Should fans be concerned about Mookie Betts?
By Jerry Trotta
There hasn’t been much to complain about regarding the Los Angeles Dodgers lately.
Sure, they dropped Friday night’s game against the Giants in heartbreaking fashion as Albert Pujols was robbed of a walk-off home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but they’re still 31-20 overall despite navigating around a laundry list of injuries.
The Dodgers have been getting contributions up and down the roster while stars like Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager, among others, work their way back.
Not only is Max Muncy establishing himself one of the game’s best hitters, but Justin Turner continues to produce at an elite level and Chris Taylor has showed up (and then some) in the final year of his contract by hitting .273/.401/461 with 24 RBI thus far.
How much of a rollercoaster has this season been for the Dodgers? Well, for as many unsung heroes as they’ve had, their most high-profile superstar, Mookie Betts, has been a literal non-factor over the first two months.
After going 0-for-6 on Friday night, which lowered his batting average to .240, manager Dave Roberts announced Betts will get Saturday off to “recalibrate.” That begs the question of whether fans should be concerned about the former AL MVP?
Should Dodgers fans be concerned about Mookie Betts?
Betts was sidelined for four games last month due to a back issue and he missed another game after getting beaned in the forearm. It’s feasible to assume the 28-year-old isn’t 100%, but if he isn’t using it as an excuse — he’s stated numerous times those ailments haven’t impacted his performance — than neither should fans.
While advanced metrics would indicate Betts isn’t playing as poor as his performance would indicate, it’s still below the standards expected for a $365 million player. His hard-hit rate 43.4%) would be his lowest in four years, and his barrel rate (5.4%) ranks well below the league average.
Despite that, however, we wouldn’t be overly concerned unless his struggles linger for the next few weeks or months. After all, the Dodgers have been churning out wins with the All-Star outfielder off to the slowest start of his career since his debut season in 2015.
Would this be a different story if LA needed Betts to carry them through their rash of injuries? No doubt, but that isn’t the case (unlike, say, Francisco Lindor), which proves fans have no other choice but to be patient with Betts while guys like Muncy, Turner, and Taylor pick up the slack.
For any fans itching to hit the panic button, look at the back of Betts’ baseball card. Aside from 2017, we’re talking about a player who’s never hit lower than .291 in his career. Because of that, we have to give him the benefit of the doubt and trust that he’ll turn it around.
Is an injured list stint or an extended period of rest necessary for Betts to get his mind right? Maybe, but regardless a two-month sample size isn’t nearly enough of a sample size to be pretending like the sky is falling.