Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers lineup has shown some of their potential by scoring 31 runs over their last five games after struggling during the Opening Series in the hitter-friendly Coors Field to open the season.
However, most of their production has come without the help of Mookie Betts, who is batting just .226/.273/.290 with a 64 wRC+ through his first seven games played, which equates to offensive production that is 71% worse than his career line.
It is an incredibly small sample size and it follows a shortened Spring Training that didn’t give every player a proper amount of time to prepare, so there isn’t much reason to worry yet. Betts in particular was delayed in making his Cactus League debut this year.
Betts also believes the issue is with his swing, which could be another side effect from the short spring, and he is working to correct the issue by watching extra film, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gave Betts his first day off this season on Saturday. So Betts was headed to the video room pre-game to see if he could unlock something to turn around his .226 start.
“The thing I love about Mookie and certain players is that they’re accountable,” Roberts said when told of Betts’ frustration. “Sometimes when you stink you stink. To say that and make light of it — you move on. I think he’ll be the first to tell you he stinks right now. But he’s a heckuva ballplayer and he’ll figure it out.”
So far this season, Betts has not made quality contact on many pitches. His average exit velocity is in the 32nd percentile of batters, his hard hit rate is in the 14th percentile and his barrel rate is at the bottom of the league.
Another issue for the 29-year-old is he is taking walks far less than he normally does. This season, Betts has walked in just 3% of his plate appearances, a steep drop compared to his career 10.4% walk rate.
However, that is likely to normalize over more at-bats as he still ranks in the 90th percentile of chase rate and the 83rd percentile of whiff percentage.
While it has been a frustrating start to the season for Betts after an injury-riddled 2021 year, he is still among the league’s best talents, so he is a good bet to figure out his issues sooner rather than later.
Dave Roberts expects Betts to return to MVP form
Betts was limited to just 122 games while playing through pain last season but still managed to hit .264/.367/.487 with 23 home runs, a 131 wRC+ and 3.9 WAR. Most players would be pleased with that level of production, but for the five-time All-Star, it fell short of what has become expected of him.
Now healthy again, Betts is looking to bounce back and lead the Dodgers to another World Series title and manager Dave Roberts expects the 2018 American League MVP will once again be in the conversation for the award this season.
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