Mookie Betts No Longer Insisting On Being Dodgers Leadoff Hitter

As the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup was looking to generate some consistency last year, manager Dave Roberts settled on Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot, followed by Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman.

The most notable component of that was keeping Betts as the leadoff hitter. The Dodgers experimented with moving him down in the lineup during the 2020 season, but Betts didn’t produce to his full capability and he openly expressed a desire to remain atop the batting order.

Although that was expected to be the case again this year, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts suggested the team could re-evaluate the lineup order and potentially move Betts.

For his part, Betts expressed a willingness to move out of the leadoff spot of the Dodgers lineup if it puts the team in better position, via Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:

“At the time I did care,” he said. “Now, I don’t.”

Betts said he’s open to whatever Roberts and the coaching staff thinks is best, and agreed that moving into more of a run-producing position in the order theoretically “makes sense.”

“But,” he added, “who knows if I’m gonna hit 35 homers again. That’s why I don’t care about it. It is what it is.”

Over 847 career games when batting first, Betts has hit .293/.368/.534 with 249 doubles, 29 triples, 179 home runs, 510 RBI and 118 stolen bases. Betts’ .903 on-base plus slugging percentage as a leadoff hitter is nearly 30 points higher than his next-best of .877 when batting second.

Further lending to the notion that he is more comfortable as a leadoff hitter, Betts set a career high with 35 home runs last season.

Given the current construction of the Dodgers roster, it’s not likely there is a better option for the leadoff spot than Betts.

The Dodgers could revert back to utilizing Max Muncy to hit first, like what was experimented with in 2020. Chris Taylor was occasionally moved into the leadoff spot during the 2021 season as well.

Mookie Betts set leadoff records

Last season, Betts broke the Dodgers franchise record for most home runs out of the leadoff spot. It previously belonged to Joc Pederson, who hit 33 homers as the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter in 2019.

Betts additionally set a new MLB record for most multi-homer games from the leadoff spot with 20. The record previously belonged to Alfonso Soriano.

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