The Los Angeles Dodgers were very much “not themselves” for the first half of the 2021 season and still managed to head into the All-Star break with a 56-35 record. That was good for the second-best mark in MLB.
Unfortunately, high expectations after they captured a World Series in 2020 have fostered the discussion that the team is currently underachieving. But the fact is LA just hasn’t hit its stride yet.
Perhaps many were harsh in their assessment because the San Francisco Giants currently have the league’s top record. If that wasn’t the case, the Dodgers wouldn’t be chasing anything. They’d only be keeping the San Diego Padres at bay.
They only need a few things to go their way to catch the Giants. The starting rotation needs to come together. The bullpen needs to be more reliable. Obviously. But more importantly, Mookie Betts needs to return to his MVP self if they want to be the true juggernaut many believed they’d be this year.
And we might be watching that unfold right before our eyes.
The Dodgers will fully take off if Mookie Betts is ready to go on a run.
A leadoff home run for the slugger tied Wednesday’s game against the Houston Astros and then sparked the offense to score six more, one of which came on another Betts blast. How many times have we seen the Dodgers’ offense go uncharacteristically silent this year? How many times has it been because Betts wasn’t in the lineup due to injury or was “struggling” because he wasn’t fully healthy?
Now he’s back from the injured list after being hampered by back and hip issues for the first four months of the year. If we assume he’s 100%, then it’s no secret he’s ready to tear the cover off the ball. He started doing so before his last IL stint.
Just imagine how much better the Dodgers will be. Even when Betts was performing “poorly” for his standards, he was still OPSing in the .800s. He just wasn’t hitting around .300 and aggressively swiping bases.
Throw in all-around Gold Glove defense to boot on a nightly basis and this is a completely different Dodgers team with Betts leading off the game.
It may not be fully in focus just yet, but we’re catching glimpses of the Dodgers getting back to maximum strength and patching up their deficiencies. The baseball season is a marathon, so it’ll take time after all that the Dodgers have endured this season with injuries and off-the-field issues, but when it does, we’ll be looking at a potential back-to-back championship roster.
And Mookie Betts will likely be in the driver’s seat.