Dave Roberts’ Mookie Betts quote on slow start does not breed confidence
If you’re laser focused on the glove and smile, there’s nothing wrong with Dodgers superstar Mookie Betts in April 2022.
At the plate, it’s been a different story thus far for a superstar who’s done nothing but attack the zone with veracity since his 2014 debut.
Betts has begun the 2022 season with an unsightly .171/.277/.220 triple-slash, accruing -0.2 WAR for his troubles with a 46 OPS+. While the rest of his Dodgers teammates rack up crooked numbers in the late innings, Mookie has mostly been left holding the bag, waiting to return home and sift through the haters on Twitter.
After another 0-for-4 performance in a loss to the Braves where the offense scuffled against Max Fried (an all-world lefty, to be fair), Dave Roberts was left without answers for Betts’ powerless start to 2022.
Hoping against hope that this isn’t the start of something bigger, Roberts let it slip that he’d never seen this level of scuffling before, which is worrisome, to say the least.
Dodgers star Mookie Betts is off to the worst start of his career on offense.
The part of Betts’ start that’ll leave even an overly positive manager like Roberts grasping for straws is his dearth of hard contact.
Betts has yet to barrel a ball through his first 41 at-bats, putting him in the bottom 1% of all qualified major leaguers. His repeated soft contact has him placed in the 34th percentile for average exit velocity, 23rd percentile for hard-hit percentage, and 13th for expected batting average.
Despite being a quick-twitch superstar and an exceptional athlete in his prime, Betts’ bat has been as hollow as a journeyman’s so far in 2022, both explicitly and under the surface.
In the field? Same old, same old. At the plate, he’s digging, and it comes down to more than just pitch selection. He’s impacting the ball at a different level of quality.
Much like Gerrit Cole across the country, Betts’ early struggles are something both player and team have never seen before, and there’s nothing in the data that bears out a quick rebound.
Like Roberts said, though, this is the Dodgers’ challenge to take on together. The franchise made a long-term commitment to Betts, and the way they fight through this valley will determine whether the partnership was a wise one.