Mookie Betts News: Dodgers Manager Roberts Says All-Star Might Move Out of Leadoff Spot
Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts has spent most of his career in the leadoff spot, with 3,974 of his 5,064 plate appearances coming there. Other than 11 games in the two-hole in 2020 and 12 games batting third in 2021, his entire time in Dodger blue has been as a leadoff hitter, even when speedster Trea Turner joined the team. Betts has said he’s most comfortable in that spot, and it’s worked out well for him and the team.
According to Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts, though, leadoff might not be Mookie’s role on this year’s team. Talking to the media from Camelback Ranch this week, Roberts said he’d consider moving Betts down in the lineup.
“I’m thinking about it. I think that having that discussion is thoughtful. It makes sense, given the fact that you don’t expect him to steal bases like he’s done in the past. He showed some more power, which potentially could have been more production as far as runs batted in. … but, if you’re talking about moving Mookie, you’ve also got to have a better option.”
The “better option” part is sticky. Shortstop Gavin Lux has the tools to bat leadoff, but Roberts has said he likes Lux near the bottom of the lineup where he thrived last year. Beyond that, among guys who are expected to start most of the time this year, only rookie Miguel Vargas would really make sense at leadoff, and it’s unlikely they’d want to throw him into that particular fire so early in his career.
In the past, Mookie’s preference for leadoff has been a major factor. Roberts says Betts has opened up to the idea of moving if necessary.
“In talking to him, he just said that every year is different — and this is just a recent conversation that he’d be open if there is a change.”
Betts, who confirmed he’s open to whatever the club needs, is likely to bat second or third for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, and while he’s gone for the WBC, Roberts will have the opportunity to try other players in the leadoff spot for LA. But in the end, while change is on the table, it remains unlikely for one simple reason:
“It’s hard to come off Mookie not being the best option.”
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