The Mookie Betts shortstop experiment might finally be coming to a head for Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Yankees
Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Yankees / Luke Hales/GettyImages

When the Dodgers put Mookie Betts at shortstop this season, they tasked him with playing arguably the hardest position on the diamond behind catcher. He'd played short just a handful of times before in 2023, after the team had lost Trea Turner and was employing a revolving door behind Miguel Rojas taking most starts there.

LA expected Gavin Lux to come back after a missed year with injury and be their new Trea Turner or Corey Seager, but that went downhill fast. He and Betts were switched between second and shortstop during spring training, after Lux just looked lost on defense.

The switch, made clear before long that it'd be semi-permanent, raised a lot of eyebrows back then. He hadn't spent a significant amount of time at shortstop in his professional career, and despite how talented Betts was as an all-around player, shortstop was a different story entirely.

But the Dodgers dug their heels in, and Betts has made the vast majority of his starts at shortstop this year. The results have been sub-optimal, to say the least. Among 24 qualified shortstops, Betts ranks dead last in three pretty important categories: outs above average, defensive runs above average, and fielding run value.

Mookie Betts' numbers at shortstop has Dodgers fans concerned

If you haven't been convinced that Betts has been as bad on defense as some Dodgers writers have suggested, then those stats should make a good case that LA needs a replacement shortstop ASAP. It's not really fans that need to convincing, though, rather management and the front office, who have steadfastly stood behind the position change and praised Betts' commitment to the switch and his determination to get better.

That's all well and good, but it was always unrealistic to stick Betts there and just expect him to be good immediately, or even after a full year of playing there. In just 16 turns at short last season, he committed three errors, and he has nine this season in 61 games, a career high by far.

Betts is a six-time Gold Glover as a right fielder. The Dodgers moving him to second was a little strange to begin with, but he came up through the minors as a second baseman before posting up in the outfield in the majors, so that was a little more understandable.

But his numbers this year are proving that the best thing for all parties involved would be for the Dodgers to aggressively pursue a replacement shortstop at the trade deadline and move Betts back to second. If they let that opportunity pass them by, we could be in for a rough second half to the season.