by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
You can argue that Mookie Betts has been a disappointment thus far in 2015, hitting .241 with 5 HR, 24 RBI, 20 R and 6 SB over his first 46 games (entering play yesterday). Of course “disappointment” is a relative term. If you projected those numbers out for 162 games you’d get (rounding up):
Sure the average has been poor, but would anyone complain about those counting stats? In fact, compare them to Brian Dozier from a year ago (he played in 156 games):
They aren’t that far off and Dozier’s marks came courtesy of a .242 average. The fact that there’s significant upside in Betts’ production just further helps to supports keeping him active, especially since the average should improve significantly and bring the rest of the numbers with it.
Betts started off struggling in the strikeout department, with a 17.0% mark in April. He’s brought that down to 7.5% in May, though that’s been the least of our concerns. His overall profile is simply not what we’d expect from him as his line drives are down (18.2%) and his fly balls are up (44.2%). While he can hit a few home runs, that’s simply not his game. He owned a 29.0% OFB in the minors since 2011 and needs to get back to hitting the ball hard and using his speed.
It’s also promising that his best average this season has come against breaking balls, the exact opposite of what he showed in 2014 in the Majors (in parenthesis):
- Hard – .226 (.315)
- Breaking – .255 (.217)
- Offspeed – .214 (.314)
It’s very possible that Betts has simply become a little homer happy, for whatever reason, and he’s gotten away from what helped to make him successful. At the same time he has a history of starting slowly before waking up and raking, so now certainly isn’t the time to lose hope.
Then again, why would we lose hope anyways? It’s certainly not like the numbers are crippling and a significant disappointment. The worst case scenario is a player similar to Brian Dozier, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Given the upside, though, expect a significant improvement before long.
Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Brooks Baseball