Even though the Los Angeles Dodgers are sitting at 10-3 with one of the MLB’s top records, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
When the team signed former MVP Freddie Freeman not long before the 2022 regular season finally got underway, writers across the baseball blogosphere began talking about how potent the Los Angeles lineup might be. However, there have been a few cold bats — most notably the lumber of Max Muncy and Mookie Betts — that have relegated the club to the fifth-best hitting and the second-best run producing team in the majors.
Nevertheless, if Friday’s opener against the Padres is any indication, both players might be finding their respective grooves and could be nearing the point of joining the offensive party that players like Freeman, Chris Taylor, Trea Turner and others are currently leading.
Both Muncy and Betts had two hits apiece for the Dodgers on Friday, and a few of those hits turned out to be the key offensive moments in the game for Los Angeles. Betts hit his first two homers of the season, and Muncy’s two-run single in the seventh inning put the game out of reach for San Diego.
Before Friday’s game, Betts was hitting .178/.289/.222 (8-for45) with no homers. Many fans thought for certain there might be an injury involved, but Betts assured everyone in a postgame interview that he’s simply been struggling at the plate.
“It’s just me,” Betts told Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “I can’t blame it on the hip, I can’t blame it on anything else. It’s all me. You have to take ownership for sucking. It is what it is though. I’m working. My teammates have been amazing in keeping us winning and I just want to do my part to help us win.”
Similarly, Muncy was hitting .128/.306/.256 (5-for-39) before the beginning of Friday’s opener, causing some fans to wonder if skipper Dave Roberts would ultimately make some lineup modifications.
Muncy’s nine walks have made his OBP a little more respectable. Despite his poor average, the 31-year-old infielder believes he has been getting some good looks at the dish.
“I actually feel I’ve been having a lot of really good at-bats,” Muncy told Plunkett. “Just a lot of bad luck, unfortunately. As long as you can stay strong mentally and not get completely outside yourself and start changing everything then hopefully you will eventually come out of it. Hopefully, this is a start.”
Whatever the case may be, a hot Muncy and Betts at the top of the Los Angeles lineup can certainly throw the club into another offensive gear. It comes at a good time when a critical bullpen piece in Blake Treinen was sent to the injured list with shoulder issues.
So far, there’s yet to be a ton of pressure on the bullpen — or the entirety of the pitching staff, for that matter.
Let’s hope the Los Angeles offense — spearheaded by Freeman, TTurner, Betts and Muncy — can keep it that way.