Mookie Betts can fulfill own vision by reversing playoff nightmare in 2024

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers
Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The Dodgers have a couple of October oddities on their hands. There's Clayton Kershaw, of course, with his 4.49 ERA in the postseason versus 2.48 career ERA, and there's Mookie Betts, with his .251/.333/.377 postseason mark versus .294/.373/.527 career lines. Both players are shoo-ins for the Hall of Fame, both are potential first-balloters, but the only smudge on their permanent records are a consistent failure to come through in the most high-leverage of situations.

This isn't always true; Kershaw has pitched two nearly complete postseason games while allowing zero runs (eight shutout in Game 2 of the 2018 NLDS vs. Atlanta, as well as the Brewers game in 2020). Betts showed up big time in the 2021 NLDS against the Giants, going 9-20 with a home run, but his production totally petered out by the NLCS against the Braves. He also went 2-14 in the NLDS in 2022.

And then there's the devastation of the 2023 NLDS, which both Kershaw and Betts played a part in. After everything that's already been said, we won't rehash that, because odds are that it's fresh enough in your memory anyway.

Betts knows that he needs to get better in October. He told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that he wants to "be a legend in the game," but he knows that hinges on future postseason success (subscription required).

Mookie Betts knows being a "legend in the game" means coming through in the postseason

Betts has been the Dodgers' biggest fan this offseason. He hyped up Dodgers fans and incensed every other fanbase by saying a regular season game against the Dodgers would be every other team's World Series. He's been looking incredible over seven spring training games, hitting better than he ever has in preseason games. He's confident and hitting well, and he seems more determined to excel from March to October than ever before.

Of course, the Dodgers have to get to the postseason first, but the odds that they'll win over 100 games and take the NL West with ease are (literally) incredibly high. It could be a psychological thing as much as anything, but Betts will need to figure out whatever mental block might be keeping him from reaching his usual heights during the postseason if he really wants to be considered a legend.

Perhaps, if everyone else treats their regular-season battles with the Dodgers as a personal World Series, Betts will be able to channel their mentality into making his actual October feel like a breeze?