The Los Angeles Dodgers have run the gamut at the shortstop position since 2021. They've lost Corey Seager, Trea Turner and Gavin Lux, which has left them with an underwhelming platoon ... and they still have the best record in the National League.
They've been powered by Mookie Betts, who's hitting .252 with an .872 OPS, 132 OPS+, 43 runs scored, 13 home runs and 33 RBI through his first 54 games. Betts may no longer hit for average like he used to, but he continues to get on base and slug while protecting other top hitters in the lineup.
But the biggest development for the former MVP this year has been his defense. Everyone already knew Betts was arguably the best right fielder in the game, but he's been asked to play some infield given the Dodgers' dire situation.
So far, he's logged 19 games total at second base and shortstop. His athleticism has been crucial for the Dodgers surviving such monumental losses. And the split stats remain real.
As an outfielder in 2023, Betts is hitting .216 with a .783 OPS, 27 runs scored, 9 home runs, 23 RBI in 173 plate appearances. Not bad, but definitely not All-Star-caliber numbers.
Dodgers Rumors: Mookie Betts changing LA's trade deadline picture?
As an infielder? Betts is hitting .392 with a 1.242 OPS in his 62 plate appearances. And it seems Andrew Friedman isn't going to mess with Betts' current role, if we're to believe his most recent comments about the Dodgers' potential trade deadline endeavors.
Friedman told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register (subscription required) that Betts' defensive versatility could alter the team's approach at the trade deadline. Fans have been fantasizing about the Dodgers possibly adding someone like Tim Anderson or Willy Adames to take over at shortstop, but since the Dodgers have more glaring needs, they might be able to stomach getting by with Betts, Chris Taylor, Miguel Rojas and Miguel Vargas as their middle infielders.
And if Betts has proven to be a better hitter when he's switching things up and playing the infield, then why interrupt that?
The Dodgers badly need starting pitching, relievers and outfielders -- all of which are easier to come by than starting shortstops. Even with Betts in the outfield, David Peralta and Trayce Thompson have been terrible, while James Outman has unfortunately come crashing back down to earth after his incredible six-week stretch to start 2023. While Jason Heyward's been good, he can't be viewed as anything other than a fourth outfielder at this stage of his career.
So if Friedman is splurging at the deadline, expect him to wisely part with assets to acquire two or more players that would fill voids, rather than paying a premium for a position that's getting by competently with the contributions thus far.