If you were to name a player in the major leagues these days who has the trifecta of offense, defense, and speed, it would be Mookie Betts (31, Los Angeles Dodgers). With his tremendous athleticism, Betts is a jack-of-all-trades.
Betts made his major league debut in 2014, initially playing center field and sometimes second base. The following year, however, he began to see more time in right field, and by 2016, he had settled into the position. Like other outfielders, right field is a position that requires a wide defensive range and strong shoulders to catch runners from first to third base, which is different from left field.
Betts, however, has made a name for himself in right field as a ball, defense, and run player. Betts has won six Gold Gloves since his first in 2016. He’s also won five Silver Sluggers. In 2018, he was named the American League MVP. This was largely due to his extraordinary performance on both offense and defense. Betts’ dynamic play had everyone cheering.스포츠토토
This led to a massive 12-year, $365 million contract with the Dodgers. But there’s one player in particular that reminds San Diego manager Bob Melvin of Betts’ younger days. It’s Fernando Tatis Jr. 24, who converted to right field this year.
Tatis Jr. has played shortstop since his youth. He’s not a great fielder, but he’s athletic, has great defensive range, and has the shoulders to throw like a bullet. Most importantly, he could hit 40+ home runs as a shortstop. That’s why San Diego gave Tatis Jr. a 14-year, $340 million contract in 2021, even though he had never played full-time.
However, Tatis Jr. made too many errors at shortstop, and his frequent shoulder dislocations made his defense at the position a liability, so the Padres moved him to right field and eventually acquired All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts before the season.
Tatis Jr. is taking the pressure off the defense and finding his groove offensively
So far, so good. In 52 games this season, Tatis Jr. is batting .284 with 14 home runs, 34 RBIs, 12 doubles, and a .905 OPS. His defense has also exceeded expectations. In DRS (a metric that measures how well a defense prevents runs from scoring), Tatis Jr. leads all outfielders. The only player with a better DRS is teammate Ha-Sung Kim.
Melvin hasn’t shied away from mentioning Betts’ name. In a recent interview with The Athletic, Melvin talked about Betts and Tatis Jr.’s defense, noting that Betts plays a more standard defense in right field, but praising Tatis Jr. for “doing what Betts is doing right now.”
Betts’ former Boston teammate Bogart also praised Tatis Jr.’s outfield defense, saying, “What he does there every night is unbelievable.”
In 2016, his age-24 season, Betts played in 158 games, batting .318 with 31 home runs, 113 RBIs, and an OPS of .897. His adjusted OPS was 133. He was an All-Star, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger. Tatis Jr. is even more productive offensively than Betts, with an adjusted OPS of 150 in his age-24 season, and is one of the league’s leading defenders.
It’s his PED history that ultimately hurts him. Tatis Jr. was caught taking a banned substance last year and was suspended for 80 games, ultimately missing the entire 2022 season. The truth is, Tatis Jr. was one of the most athletic players in the league without the help of drugs. That’s why many observers wondered, “Why would he do it?” and expressed regret.
But the price for dabbling in the wrong things was steep. Tatis Jr. lost a year of his life, delayed his prime by a year, and suffered a huge blow to his image. To this day, Tatis Junior’s name is often echoed in the arena, and while it’s not always true, he’s been accused of drug-fueled performance.