Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
While Mookie Betts has cooled off since a historic month of August, the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the National League West division for a 10th time in the past 11 seasons, and are headed into the postseason as the No. 2 seed behind the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves earned the No. 1 seed in the NL on the shoulders of their historic offense led by Ronald Acuña Jr., who became the first player in MLB history with 30 home runs and 40 stolen bases. Acuña has added onto his historic feat by reaching 41 homers and 70 steals thus far.
His incredible season is the only thing standing in the way of Betts winning a second career MVP Award. Betts and Acuña have been the talk of the MVP race for months, but with the Braves’ All-Star maintaining his hot stretch without fail, the narrative has shifted much in his favor.
However, both teams are competing for a shot at a World Series title, something Betts mentioned as being far more important than NL MVP, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I don’t know, man. MVP is cool, but it’s kind of irrelevant,” Betts said Tuesday. “We play to win the World Series. Individual goals are really cool and some people play for that and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But me, I play because I want to win. If I play good, cool. I would love to play well, but as long as we win, that’s all I care about. There are so many guys that have played really good and there’s no argument to what Acuña has been doing.”
Betts currently leads the NL in fWAR with 8.3, but much of that has to do with his defensive versatility and plus-metrics on that end. The 30-year-old elevated his play when splitting time as an infielder, batting .335/.431/.593 as a second baseman.
Although Betts has come back down to Earth from his unreal month of August, since the Dodgers’ homestand, he owns a .425 on-base percentage. His ability to get the offense rolling is key for their postseason aspirations.
Mookie Betts breaks MLB record
On September 23, Betts entered play within reach of the MLB record for most RBI a single season. He trailed Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who set the record of 103 RBI during the 2017 season.
Betts transformed himself into a power threat in recent years, and this past week he broke the record, logging his 105th RBI of the season. He also owns the Dodgers record for home runs from the leadoff spot, while putting together one of the best offensive years in his career.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently noted that there aren’t many around MLB who can do what Betts does.
“When he feels right and feels healthy, there’s just not many guys that can do what he does,” Roberts said. “He took a couple days off, getting him back, he’s just picked up right where he left off.”
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