The morning of the Los Angeles Dodgers facing the Atlanta Braves in the series finale at Truist Park, manager Dave Roberts predicted that outfielder Mookie Betts would hit a home run “within the next few days.”
Four days later, Betts homered in a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to make Roberts’ prediction come true.
“I just feel that he’s been close. I think the great thing about Mookie is he swings at strikes when he’s right, takes balls, and when the ball is in the hitting zone, he moves it forward,” Roberts said.
“I think at times this year he’s missed some pitches that he should’ve handled. I just felt he was getting really close. When he’s aggressive, I just think good things are going to come.”
Although Betts is considered to be in a slump, he has still been 25% above average by wRC+ while batting .250/.361/.431 this season. However, that is still below his career stats.
After the Dodgers completed a sweep of the Pirates in a rain-shortened game, Betts said he has been working a lot and is now hitting the ball hard more consistently, but not much has changed for him physically.
“Just a mindset of being on the attack a little bit more instead of trying to be passive,” Betts explained. “Just trying to get more swings off. Not necessarily swinging wildly, but definitely trying to get swings off.”
When a player fails to meet expectations it often leads to a discussion of potentially doing too much work. Betts is striving to find a balance, but ultimately believes in doing more.
“At some point, you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do,” he said. “I may be overworking but I would rather exert my energy there versus not working at all. I’m a hard-working guy. Professional athletes have to get our bodies in shape in order to do what we have to do.”
As Betts starts to heat up at the plate, Roberts acknowledged health is a factor but not necessarily the driving force.
“I see him looking healthier, but for me, more of it is in the batter’s box I think he’s way more aggressive as opposed to being passive,” Roberts noted. “In my opinion, I feel the last month he’s been more passive than he needs to be.”
Betts chasing leadoff king
Betts’ long ball in the first inning was his 25th career leadoff home run.
With 900 career games played, this puts him at an average of one leadoff homer per 36 games. At that pace, Betts would need to play 2,016 more games to tie Rickey Henderson’s record of 81 career leadoff home runs, which is a little less than 13 seasons’ worth of games.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and more!