Mookie Betts’ first season with the Dodgers could not have gone any better from a team standpoint. The individual accolades could soon follow, especially with Betts now officially among the top three for the National League MVP award.
Betts finished in the top three in voting from the Baseball Writers Association of America for the NL Most Valuable Player, along with Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Padres third baseman Manny Machado, with the winner announced on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. PT on MLB Network.
If Betts wins this 2020 award, the 2018 American League MVP would join Frank Robinson as the only players to win an MVP award in both leagues.
Betts hit .292/.366/.562 with 16 home runs in his first season with the Dodgers, scoring 47 runs in 55 games. He led the NL in Baseball-Reference WAR (3.4) and finished second in FanGraphs WAR (3.0) behind Freeman. Betts is a finalist for a National League Gold Glove in right field, having won Gold Gloves in the American League in the previous four seasons.
Acquired from the Red Sox in February, Betts was the final piece to the Dodgers’ championship puzzle, the dynamic star addition that helped put a team that averaged over 100 wins the previous three seasons over the top, capturing the first World Series for the franchise in 32 years.
“Mookie’s unbelievable. He’s an incredible baseball player who does everything so well, that everybody talks about,” Clayton Kershaw said after the World Series. “I think that he strives to be perfect, strives to be excellent every single time out there. That focus and that consistency, I don’t know how much better it made other guys in this clubhouse, but I know it did.”
His all-around game was on display in the postseason, when he hit .296/.378/.493 with two home runs and scored 15 times in 18 games. He also stole six bases in six tries, including four during the World Series, and made game-changing highlight catches in each of the final three games of the NLCS, helping the Dodgers erase a 3-1 series deficit to Atlanta.
“When we acquired him, my expectations were sky high. And somehow he managed to find some headroom above that, and exceed it,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the night the Dodgers won the World Series. “I just can’t say enough about the baseball player, and the way he makes everyone around him better. It’s hard to imagine us sitting here right now without him.”
If Betts wins NL MVP this season, he’ll join Cody Bellinger as the second time the Dodgers will have captured back-to-back top honors, along with catcher Roy Campanella in 1955 and pitcher Don Newcombe in 1956.
At the very least, Betts will join current teammates Bellinger (2019 winner), Clayton Kershaw (2014 winner), and Corey Seager (2016, third place) as recent Dodgers to finish in the top three of NL MVP voting.