The Los Angeles Dodgers’ lineup came with quite a surprise on Thursday.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 10, 2020
Some thought the lineup might have been a mistake, as Kiké Hernández, a utility player with extensive experience at second base, was at Betts’ usual post in right. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts soon confirmed the lineup was accurate, and the Dodgers’ $365 million man was playing a new position.
Roberts said that Betts himself volunteered for the move, with the idea that it could be good prep for an emergency situation in the postseason.
#Dodgers Dave Roberts said Mookie Betts came to him and they talked about potential scenarios where "things got crazy" in postseason and he found himself playing infield. "Felt this was a good opportunity for him to log some innings ... Just gathering some information."
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 10, 2020
Roberts added that Betts could see additional time at second base down the stretch as well.
Entering Thursday, Betts has been hitting .307/.380/.613 with 14 home runs and living up to the hype that followed him into Los Angeles. He currently leads all MLB position players in bWAR.
A return to second base for Mookie Betts
Betts’ move to second is actually a return to his old position, though he hasn’t played there since the 2018 season. His last start at the position came in 2014.
Betts played second base more than every other position combined while moving through the Boston Red Sox organization as a prospect, but the presence of Dustin Pedroia meant that he needed to find other positions to play. He mostly played center field in his first two MLB seasons, then settled into right field, where he has since become a perennial Gold Glove winner.
And now, with a massive extension inked and his place on the team cemented for the long term, Betts is giving second base another shot.
The odds of the Dodgers being in dire enough need for a second baseman seems somewhat slim. Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Max Muncy and Gavin Lux have all seen time there this season, with varying levels of success on defense. Still, it’s quite something to see a player with more security than just about anyone volunteer for a move like this, and could be valuable information to have as Betts’ career progresses.
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