Dodgers Team News

Mookie Betts: Dodgers Aren’t Trying to Hit Home Runs, But ‘It’s Helping Us Stay Afloat’

The Dodgers have relied on the home run ball early in the 2023 season. Entering Tuesday — through 23 games — the Dodgers lead the National League with 43 home runs, and trail just the Tampa Bay Rays for the most in all of baseball (48). The Dodgers are hitting a home run every 17.49 at-bats, which is pretty unheard of. Last year, the New York Yankees led the entire MLB by hitting a home run every 21.35 at-bats.

With the MLB’s new rules, most notably the banning of the shift, people expected the game of baseball to revert back to a game of putting the ball in play, and not so much trying to hit home runs. However, the Dodgers have not followed that path.

It’s still early in the season, though, and there’s tons of time to even things out. And, for what it’s worth, the Dodgers players don’t seem to be trying to hit home runs every time they go up to bat — that’s what they told Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times.

“I don’t know if we’re out there trying to hit homers, but they’re going over the fence,” Mookie Betts said. “So we’ll take them as we can get them.”

Jack Harris, LA Times

Max Muncy seconded Betts’ sentiment.

“We have a lot of guys with good swings and when you’re able to put the barrel on the ball, good things will happen,” Muncy said. “That’s all we’re focused on doing. Just get the barrel to the ball.”

Jack Harris, LA Times

So far, putting the barrel on the ball has turned into home runs for the Dodgers, as they lead the NL by a healthy margin. However, the Dodgers still understand the importance of not relying on the home run ball, especially over the course of a long season.

“Obviously you don’t want to live and die by [the home run],” Betts said. “But right now it’s helping us stay afloat.”

Jack Harris, LA Times

It’s definitely helping the Dodgers stay afloat, as I don’t think anyone wants to know where the Dodgers would be without the home run ball. But, at some point, they’re going to need to start finding ways to put the ball in play and make things happen without it.

We saw in last year’s postseason, the Dodgers inability to put the ball in play in big moments ended up costing them. Home runs are nice, but sometimes a multi-hit rally could be even better for a team’s momentum. We’ll see how the Dodgers adjust over the course of the long season, but for now, we can thank the home run ball for keeping them afloat, like Betts said.

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Noah Camras

Noah is an Editor for Dodgers Nation. He graduated from USC in 2022 with a B.A. in Journalism and minor in Sports Media Studies. He's been a Dodger fan his whole life, and his all-time favorite Dodgers are Matt Kemp and Russell Martin.

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