PITTSBURGH – It was a disappointing start to the season for Dodgers champion Mookie Betts.
The former MVP has faced nagging back, shoulder and forearm injuries all season and has yet to find his pace on the plate. Betts, however, entered Thursday’s game by still producing an OPS of 0.792, which is well above the league average. But it was still a frustrating start for Betts, who holds himself to a higher standard, also calling his 2020 season “useful” despite finishing second in the NL MVP vote.
Maybe things are finally starting to turn for Betts, as he showed his tools against the Pirates on Thursday.
Betts wasted no time getting the Dodgers on the board, unloading a 2-0 fastball from Pirates right-footed Mitch Keller who remained in the center of the pot. The ball had an exit speed of 106.6 mph and traveled 417 feet. It was Betts’ 22nd career lead homer. But more importantly, it was a much-needed swing for Betts, who hadn’t played at home since May 18th.
While the Dodgers are still confident that Betts will eventually find more success at the pot, one of the odd things about the outfielder’s season up to this point is that his defense hasn’t been as good as in previous years. It was good, but not quite the same level of defense that helped Betts win five gold gloves.
In the second inning on Thursday, Betts showed why he has all that hardware.
After fumbling a ball in the right corner, helping the Pirates level the game, Betts recovered on the next serve. With Erik González in third place, Betts took a shallow sprint as he ran to his left. He then turned around before firing an 86.5mph shot at home plate to catch González at the plate, keeping the game even. The speed of the cast is particularly impressive given the odd angle and difficulty that comes with spinning and casting in motion.
It hasn’t been easy for Betts so far this season, but on Thursday he looked a little more like the Dodgers’ $ 365 million man.