How about a couple of sluggers? The newly introduced David Peralta was brought in to likely platoon in left field when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. The lefty slugger certainly has the ability to hit to all fields, but he's mostly a pull hitter.
Now that defensive shifts are limited, Peralta, who has seen a drastic dip in his average and BABIP the last two seasons, will likely find more holes. Obviously the fact he's gotten older has played a role, but these numbers are significant:
- 2017 - .293 AVG, .333 BABIP
- 2018 - .293 AVG, .328 BABIP
- 2019 - .275 AVG, .327 BABIP
- 2020 - .300 AVG, .361 BABIP
- 2021 - .259 AVG, .303 BABIP
- 2022 - .251 AVG, .307 BABIP
Conventional wisdom would suggest those numbers should improve if Peralta still has a decent amount left in the tank.
This one's two-fold. The shift argument isn't overwhelming for Betts, but it's notable. If you look at his spray chart, a good amount of his hits came up the middle or in the hole between shortstop and third base. Teams shifted 57.5% of the time when Betts was at the plate and their formation was typically three infielders on the left side. One of the defenders would play right over second base in a clear effort to steal hits up the middle from Betts. He still got the job done ... but maybe we're talking a return to MVP status, since a big part of his game from 2015-2020 was hitting for average.
Next up, the bigger bases. We've seen a stark decline in Betts stealing bags over the last couple years. Injuries likely played a role since he dealt with hip and back issues in 2021 and 2022 (only 22 stolen bases in 264 games compared to 26 in his previous 205), but will the bigger bases and limit on pickoffs entice the 30-year-old to take off a bit more?
Though his sprint speed only ranks in the 49th percentile (as of the 2022 season), he's still in the 86th percentile for outfielder jump, which likely indicates he can still get that good first step as the pitcher begins his delivery. Somebody's going to have to make up for the loss of Trea Turner disrupting on the base paths.
Betts still has it in him, and he could be aided with the rule changes.