Although inconsistent baseballs and the use of humidors in all 30 parks have caused offense around the league to drop in 2022, Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star Mookie Betts is continuing to thrive in the poor hitting environment.
On Saturday, the 29-year-old slugged his 33rd home run of the season, which set a new career high with still one month left to play. While it’s an impressive accomplishment for Betts, it’s not something he’s putting any stock into. “It doesn’t matter at all,” he said after the Dodgers’ 12-1 win over the San Diego Padres.
“I don’t care about it. It is what it is. Like I said, I always just do whatever I can to help us win.”
Although players can oftentimes unlock more power with a swing change or just finding a routine that works for them, Betts’ increased home run production came naturally from his talent.
“I think it kind of happened,” Betts said. “It’s been a really up-and-down year but somehow, I don’t know how I got to where I am. Just enjoying it and looking forward to tomorrow.”
With the triple and home run in the Dodgers’ blowout win against the Padres, Betts has a .567 slugging percentage this season, which is his highest mark since winning American League MVP in 2018 and an improvement from his .523 career slugging percentage.
But just like with his new career-high home run total, Betts isn’t all that sure his power is that important.
“It’s a good tool to have and I think it surprises more people,” Betts said. “It doesn’t surprise me because obviously I’ve been me and I know what I’ve done my whole life. But I think it’s definitely surprising to most people. It is what it is.”
Dave Roberts attributes Mookie Betts’ home run total to health and comfort
In Betts’ first full season with the Dodgers, the club only played 60 total games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The following season, Betts dealt with multiple injuries throughout the year.
This year, the six-time All-Star has stayed healthy for the majority of the season, aside from briefly dealing with fractured ribs, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts believes that is what has allowed him to set his career high in homers.
“I think that the first couple of years, I just don’t think he was as healthy as he is now,” Roberts said. “I think he’s very healthy — knock on wood — and I think he’s really having fun. I really do.
“That kind of relationship that he and Freddie have is real. He’s just as comfortable as he’s been in his time with us, and I think that’s kind of leading to performance. He’s not very physical, but he’s just such a good hitter that when you hit it hard consistently, this is what happens. So I think he’s a surprise as anyone.”
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