Yes, we’re talking about the greatest batter of our generation. No, not Mookie Betts, but Austin Barnes. However, Mookie plays a key role. Last week, suspended/injured Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly revealed that Betts had taken struggling catcher Austin Barnes under his wing.
Since then, media members have been biting their tongues in asking Dave Roberts about what’s been going right in that relationship… veteran scribe Bill Plunkett finally found the best way to ask on Wednesday. Here’s what Doc had to say.
Mookie just kind of did some things to free up his mind, give him some clarity, give him some cues, some keys mechanically and it’s something that landed with him. … Just using the big part of the field, staying in the strike zone and some things mechanically that they’ve talked through. It’s paid big dividends up to this point.
Notably, Mookie isn’t stepping on the toes of batting coaches Robert Van Scoyoc or Brant Brown, according to Dave. All parties are working together, and the number say that it is absolutely working.
Austin Barnes said that Mookie actually approached him and offered up some help. Since August 11 he's batting .500 (12-24) https://t.co/nLOGmDig2c
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) August 19, 2020
Over his last 7 games, Barnes is batting .500 on the dot (12-24), raising his season average from .091 to .304.
So, if it’s been mechanical, why has he been struggling for the last few seasons? Dave expands on Mookie’s role in helping clear a cloudy-minded Barnes.
I think the cloud comes from performance — chasing numbers. I think the cloud comes from thinking mechanics when you’re in the box and not just focusing on seeing the baseball. But those are things that happen when you do struggle and you’re trying to kind of find who you are again.
Things have been rough for Barnesy since his first full season in the bigs. After posting an .895 OPS in 2017, Austin combined for a lowly .627 OPS over the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He also spent some time at triple-A in ’19. After opening the season with a .258 OPS over his first 8 games in 2020, it was looking like it could get a lot worse for the 30-year-old. So understandably, he’s thankful for his new teammate.
Mookie’s great. I can’t say enough about him and what he’s doing in the clubhouse,” Barnes said. “He’s helped me tremendously. … That just shows you what kind of teammate he is for him to take time out of his day to help someone else. He’s been great.
Hopefully this dream team can keep it up for a few more months.
Dave Roberts Explains How Mookie Betts is Helping Austin Barnes, Optioning Gonsolin
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