This week was momentous for Mookie Betts, to say the least.
He missed two games against the Cubs while his wife Brianna gave birth to their second child. Once his wife and newborn son were declared happy and healthy, Betts flew to Chicago hoping to make it in time for the Thursday night’s game. When the Dodgers’ superstar right fielder finally arrived, it was five minutes before first pitch. But the team eventually worked him into the lineup: at shortstop.
What Can’t Mookie Betts Do?
Are You Experienced?
In the top half of the seventh inning, Betts pinch hit for the Los Angeles Dodgers starting shortstop of the day Luke Williams. When the bottom half came around, Betts took over shortstop for the first time in his career. It was a tie game when the usual mainstay in the outfield transitioned to arguably the hardest position in baseball. As usual in baseball, the ball almost immediately found its way to Betts. With two on and nobody out, Chicago Cubs Patrick Wisdom hit a weak grounder to short. Betts fielded the ball, stepped on second, and made an acrobatic jump throw over former teammate Cody Bellinger for the unassisted double play. Just as the Dodgers had planned.
Air Mookie. pic.twitter.com/YxPxyj1xl1
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 21, 2023
Mookie’s shining moment at shortstop isn’t to say he’s totally unfamiliar with the position. He last appeared at short in the 2013 Arizona Fall League and he’s played a few Major League games at second base, including this past World Baseball Classic. The Red Sox drafted Betts as a middle infielder in the fifth round of the 2011 amateur draft. At the time, Boston’s infield was loaded, so they moved Betts to the outfield to guarantee him more at bats. Since then, Mookie has won six Gold Gloves in the outfield, solidifying himself as one of the most sure handed right fielders in the game.
Mookie Betts: Renaissance Man
Betts’ foray in dazzling defensive plays at shortstop is just another reason why he might be baseball’s Renaissance Man. It’s well documented that since an early age, Mookie has been a talented bowler. By now fans should be familiar with the fact that the former MVP bowled a 300 at the 2018 World Series of Bowling, and he competed in professional bowling’s 2022 U.S. Open.
Thursday performance should be a reminder that Betts still belongs in the conversation as one of the faces of baseball. His versatility in the field and at the plate put him in a unique club. Plus, two World Series Championships, six All Star appearances and an MVP trophy sit on his mantle. In his spectacular 2018 MVP season, his second to last with the Red Sox, Betts completed a 30-30 campaign, while hitting .346 as the cherry on top.
Potential Shortstop of the Future
For now, it looks like the Dodgers need Mookie in a few different spots. Los Angeles’ budding star Gavin Lux is done for the season with a knee injury. Miguel Rojas was placed on the injured list this week with hamstring issues, and Chris Taylor is dealing with left side discomfort. That leaves Betts and two inexperienced big leaguers, Yonny Hernandez and Luke Williams, to rotate at shortstop. Knowing how the Dodgers operate, we may see a trade soon. With James Outman now in the outfield, don’t be surprised to see Mookie in the infield for the Dodgers going forward.
Main photo credits: Jonathan Hui- USA Today Sports
Mookie Betts, Patrick Wisdom, Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux, Miguel Rojas, Chris Taylor, Yonny Hernandez, Luke Williams, James Outman