Mookie Betts’ prolific 2020 continues. In his first season with the Dodgers, he won a World Series, signed a 12-year, $365 million contract extension, and will finish no lower than third in National League MVP voting. On Tuesday, Betts won a Gold Glove Award for his defensive prowess in right field.
Betts is the fourth Dodgers right fielder to win a Gold Glove, joining Raul Mondesi (1995, 1997), Andre Ethier (2011), and Cody Bellinger (2019). Bellinger this year was among the top three finishers in center field, but that Gold Glove went instead to Trent Grisham of the Padres.
This is the fifth consecutive Gold Glove in right field for Betts, who won American League honors at the position with the Red Sox from 2016-19. He’s the 30th outfielder to win at least five Gold Gloves awards.
Usually, the Gold Glove is determined by a mix of voting from coaches and managers within MLB (75 percent) and a collection of statistics comprising the Sabermetric Defensive Index (25 percent). But given the regionalized schedules this year and teams only playing one third of the league, this year’s Gold Gloves were determined solely by the stats.
Clayton Kershaw in September called Betts “the best right fielder I’ve ever seen,” which is supported by several defensive numbers. Betts led National League right fielders across the board in Total Zone Rating (+13), Defensive Runs Saved (+11), Ultimate Zone Rating (+6.0), and Outs Above Average (+6).
“There’s a reason Andrew [Friedman] gave him 12 years,” Kershaw added. “It’s going to be a special thing to watch for a long time.”
Betts last week won a Fielding Bible award — the same outlet that produces Defensive Runs Saved — as the best defensive right fielder in baseball.
Bellinger led National League center fielders in Outs Above Average (+7), and was second to Grisham in both Total Zone Rating (+8) and Defensive Runs Saved (+5). Grisham started 57 games in center field, compared to only 38 starts at the position for Bellinger, who also started 16 games at first base.
In the SDI numbers released by SABR, Grisham’s composite defensive score in center was 5.9, compared to 4.1 for the second-place Bellinger. Betts’ SDI of 7.5 in right field was the second-best defensive number in the National League, topped only by third baseman Nolan Arenado of the Rockies (8.5), who won his eighth consecutive Gold Glove.