After all, he would be playing in a new league perhaps best known for its elevated level of pitching. Obviously, there would be adjustments. Then, there was the whole abbreviated season thing with crazy implications to spring training.
In fact, it did take a bit of time for Betts to adjust to the pitching on the senior circuit. Over his first 37 plate appearances of the 2020 campaign, the 2018 American League MVP hit a paltry .206/.270/.265 with just two extra-base hits. Certainly, very unMookie-like.
However, from the eighth game through the present, Betts has hit .327/.402/.679 with 16 bombs, seven doubles and 36 RBI, primarily hitting out of the leadoff spot after skipper Dave Roberts initially tried hitting him in the two-hole at the beginning of the season.
If we use that magical 2.7 variable we’ve heard so much about this year, that would equate to about 43 homers and 97 RBI from a leadoff hitter. And, there’s still eight more games to be played.
As it stands, Betts is the clear leader in the National League with a 3.3 WAR. Entering Sunday’s games, his 16 long balls are tied with Manny Machado for first in the league.
And he’s just not doing it with his bat. Betts’ savvy and speed on the basepaths have seemingly created runs galore. His range is unparalleled, even though it’s his first season patrolling the tricky confines of the Dodger Stadium outfield. What’s more, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say his arm is among the top guns in the majors.
Betts is no different.
After Friday’s game against the Rockies, Betts shared a few words about himself being an MVP frontrunner with Bill Plunkett of the OC Register.
“I don’t pay any attention to it,” Betts said on Friday. I’m just doing what I can to win a World Series. I am who I am. Those things I think come from playing the game. You can’t think about those things and think about the game as well. I just have one goal and that’s to win the World Series. Whatever comes, comes.”
Normally, words like those are spoken by players as being “appropriate to say,” but coming from Betts’ mouth, it’s not hard to detect a sense of genuineness and humility.
And, he meant it from the very first day he arrived.
“I’m here to win some rings and bring rings back to Los Angeles,” Betts said back on the day his contract became official. “That’s all I’m focused on.”
Indeed, he is.