Even the modifiers ‘genius’, ‘multi-talented’, and ‘5-tool player’ seem to be insufficient to describe Mookie Betts (31, Los Angeles Dodgers).
On the 24th (Korean time), Betts started as the first batter in an away game against the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) Chicago Cubs held at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA, and swung a hard hit with 2 hits (1 home run) and 4 RBIs in 4 at-bats.
He is also a hitter, but what stands out is his defensive position. On this day, where he started was not his main position, right field. He was not a center fielder who occasionally played with right fielder, nor a second baseman who debuted as a pro, but a shortstop who was said to be the most difficult to defend among all positions. It is the first time Betts has been named to the starting lineup as a shortstop since his 2014 MLB debut.
It’s not the first time he’s played shortstop as a pro. Previously, in the game against the Cubs on the 21st, he appeared as a pinch hitter in the beginning of the 7th inning and saw the shortstop defense at the end of the 7th inning. It was his shortstop debut. He has to go all the way down to his Single A days, 11 years ago, to get back to that.
Generally, in the early days of his professional debut, he also plays multiple positions. But Betts is already a 10-year-old veteran. He is the league’s top right fielder, winning six Gold Gloves as a right fielder. It is unusual for such a player to move to a completely different position, and a position with greater defensive pressure.
Betts has already played second base several times since transferring to the Dodgers in 2020. The Dodgers judged that second baseman, who had a narrow range of activity, was less burdensome to Betts than right fielder, so they put him in as second baseman little by little during the season. But shortstop is another position. It is not easy for those who have played as professional infielders to play shortstop.
But even at shortstop, Betts was Betts. Cubs hitter Nick Madrigal hit Betts a lot. Madrigal hit a shortstop ground ball at the end of the 7th inning when he had a second out and first base opportunity, and Betts, who waited for it from the front, threw it to second base with a bouncy play and made an out count. Then, at the bottom of the ninth inning, when the bases were loaded with one out, Madrigal hit the shortstop ground ball, and Betts caught the ball, and the second baseman tossed and double-strung to finish the day’s victory.
Playing multiple defensive positions is just one part of Betts’ versatility. He has a slugging power to hit 30 home runs, a foot that recorded 159 stolen bases, and an arm that recorded 62 assists in 10 seasons. It is thanks to his overwhelming motor skills that he made his MLB debut and even won the MVP (Most Valuable Player) despite his small height of 1m75cm. Betts took advantage of that motor nerve and acted as an officially registered player in American professional bowling. He also competed in the Bowling World Series in 2015 and 2017.스포츠토토
According to the Associated Press of the United States, after the game, Betts said, “I have played several positions throughout my life. There is no particular problem. I just want to play and win.” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts praised Betts, saying, “The more you watch him, the more amazing he is. He’s a really special player.”