Just a few years ago, it appeared as if Mookie Betts was on the fast track to being a Hall of Famer. His 2018 campaign with the Boston Red Sox earned him an MVP and World Series, further establishing him as one of the top three players in the game.
Then … the last few years happened. The shortened 2020 season, though it resulted in another title with the Los Angeles Dodgers, didn’t allow him to add to his career stat totals, and then hip and back injuries in 2021 limited him to just 122 games. In 2022, he’s off to a slow start with the same concerns from last year rearing their heads.
Through 14 games, Betts is hitting .196 with a .668 OPS. Plenty of time to rebound, but also not the greatest of signs after the Dodgers added Freddie Freeman to this stacked lineup. There’s a career’s worth of reason for optimism, but this is Betts’ final season before he hits the age of 30, which is when production typically begins to decline.
It’s hard to believe Betts, at this point, will replicate his 2018 and 2019 campaigns. Impossible? Not at all. Likely? Not entirely. And the two-time champ wants to give a speech at Cooperstown one day. So what’ll it take for Betts to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
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Is Dodgers star Mookie Betts a future Hall of Famer?
When it comes to historical competition, Betts, as a right fielder, has a lot to live up to given who already is enshrined.
- Babe Ruth
- Hank Aaron
- Frank Robinson
- Roberto Clemente
- Tony Gwynn
- Larry Walker
- Mel Ott
- Dave Winfield
- Al Kaline
- Reggie Jackson
- Vladimir Guerrero
- Andre Dawson
- Paul Waner
Those are the ones who were voted in, with all the others getting the nod via the Veterans Committee. And even if Betts doubles his career numbers at this point, are we sure he’s guaranteed this honor?
Right now, he has 1,163 hits, 767 runs scored, 180 home runs, 572 RBI, 148 stolen bases, a .295 average and .887 OPS. He’s also earned five Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. Let’s say he plays 10 more years and finishes with 2,326 hits, 1,534 runs scored, 360 home runs, 1,144 RBI and 296 stolen bases … with both the homers and stolen bases arguably being wishful thinking, since we can expect a downturn in power and speed as Betts ages.
Of the aforementioned Hall of Fame right fielders, Betts would only best Clemente in a few categories (and his career was cut short due to his tragic death); Walker in hits; Gywnn in RBI; most of them in stolen bases; five others in runs scored; and potentially Jackson, Winfield, Dawson and Robinson in batting average, should he remain in the .295 range.
And again, this is assuming what we’d consider a best-case scenario with Betts doubling his career numbers even though his best days might be in the rearview. It’s a tough case for sure, but it’s totally achievable. The only issue is that he’s got a long way to go, and that’s never easy when you’re on the back-nine and potentially dealing with swing mechanic issues in your age-29 season.