When Dave Roberts confirmed during Winter Meetings that Mookie Betts would be making a permanent transition from the Dodgers' outfield to second base, reactions were mixed, with some naysayers citing spotty appearances in the infield throughout his career and the more positive takes arguing that it would be easier for the Dodgers to find starting outfielders than starting second basemen in the then-current crop of free agents.
The latter party wasn't wrong. The Dodgers re-signed Jason Heyward and then went out and signed Teoscar Hernández, while only one free agent second baseman has been signed to a major league deal so far (Luis Guillorme, with the Braves). But the naysayers had a point too; Betts has never turned out a positive OAA as a second basemen in the five years he's appeared at the position, which has sometimes negatively impacted his defensive stats.
However, his one-of-a-kind bat is what makes him such a special player and is mostly what fans are watching for. Despite some of Betts' defensive shortcomings, that bat might be what MLB Network was leaning on heavily when they released their Top 10 Right Now list of second basemen, which puts Mookie at the top and has drawn some ire from rival fans.
Dodgers' Mookie Betts is MLB Network's No. 1 second baseman, and rival fans aren't happy
A quick scroll through the replies of MLB Network's post (which has been hilariously ratio'ed by unhappy not-Dodger fans) will quickly reveal the amount of displeasure this ranking has drawn out of opposing fans. Braves fans are angry about Ozzie Albies not making the list, Astros fans are angry that Jose Altuve fell behind Betts. However, assuming that the analysts at the Network were factoring in offensive skillsets, Betts clearly belongs at the top.
He ranked ninth in Baseball Savant's percentile rankings leaderboard for hitters, leagues ahead of Albies or Altuve or Marcus Semien, who was third on MLB Network's list. While Betts' defensive production is a valid concern even for Dodgers fans who might be worried, the bat has made up for and will to continue to make up for his sometimes spotty defense, even in the outfield. Other teams' players can express their anger all they want, it won't keep Mookie from garnering MVP votes for the ninth time in his career by the time the 2024 season wraps up.