After an incredible 3 home run performance on Thursday night, we’re seeing the full Mookie Betts experience as advertised. After starting the season — and his Dodgers career — with 3 hits in his first 20 at-bats, fans were a little uneasy. Especially after the MVP outfielder and LA agreed to a 12-year contract extension.
Man, does that feel like a long time ago.
Since that point, the leader of the Death Row lineup is batting .385 with 6 doubles and a team-leading 7 home runs in 15 games. Importantly for stressed Dodger fans, most of his damage has come from the leadoff spot in the lineup… a spot manager Dave Roberts has felt reluctant to let Mookie stay. However, after his big Thursday night, Dave seemed ready to keep his star at the top of the order.
I think it’s a very good possibility. Getting Corey Seager back helps things. And just kind of looking at things and seeing I want to construct the lineup, there’s a very good possibility of that.
On the season, Betts has started 6 games in the leadoff spot and has thrived at a .440 clip. In 11 starts in the two-hole, he’s posted a .255 average.
Understandably it’s a small sample size, but the correct choice is pretty obvious. You can even ask Dodgers fans.
Where should Mookie bat? #Dodgers
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) August 11, 2020
Moreover, Betts himself has said he feels more comfortable at the top of the order. In fact, it’s something he let Roberts know earlier in the week.
I’ve been doing it my whole life so I think I’m just comfortable there. … I enjoy getting things started, creating havoc on the basepaths — trying to score one in the first. I definitely take pride in doing that… it’s just a comfort thing.
While the below response is critical of the struggling Max Muncy, it does have some merit when it comes to Dave and the Dodgers sometimes making things more difficult than they need to be.
Every other manager in baseball would hit Mookie at leadoff every day, but Roberts has to make things more difficult than they need to be. Muncy can't hit his weight–he doesn't belong anywhere near the top of the order.
— BSB (@BBorbz) August 11, 2020
In 20 games, there have been 20 different lineups. There’s no doubt that the team has excelled over the last handful of seasons mixing and matching the batting order — heavily relying on platoons to survive. But this team was built to be a powerhouse with a set it and forget it lineup (mostly)… just let Mookie do what he came here to do and let the rest follow suit.