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Dodger Greats, Then and Now: Mookie Betts and Raul Mondesí

Both known for their dangerous arms, Betts and Mondesi were also threats at the plate.

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports / Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

We’ve got a fun one for you today on our Dodger Greats, Then and Now series, and it features my first Dodgers favorite: right fielder Raul Mondesí. His 1997 season with the Dodgers was his fifth in the majors, and we’re comparing it to Mookie Betts’ 2022, his ninth.

Right Field: Raul Mondesí vs. Mookie Betts

Mondesí was 26 in 1997, and Betts, with a longer career up to 2022, was 29 this year. They played in 159 and 142 games, respectively, with 670 plate appearances for Mondesí and 639 for Betts.

On Offense

Mondesí spent seven years with the Dodgers and made a splash while he was at it. In 1997, he became the first Dodger in franchise history to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases. He also became the fifth to finish a season with 30 homers at at least 190 hits.

He also managed to place within the top 10 of every offensive category of the National League, with a .310 average, 191 total hits, 333 total bases, 42 doubles, 32 stolen bases, and 116 runs created.

Mondesí got particularly hot in June, notching a hit in 98 out of 100 games through the end of the season.

In true Betts fashion, 2022 was another excellent year for the right fielder. He recovered well from his 2021 injuries and whacked 35 homers, a career high. Betts stole only 12 bases, a far cry from joining Mondesí in the 30/30 club, but he did become the third Dodger in franchise history to hit at least 35 homers and 35 doubles (joining Duke Snider and Babe Herman). Betts also hit all of those homers while batting leadoff, breaking Joc Pederson’s 2019 record for most leadoff homers.

When it comes to direct comparisons between Mondesí and Betts, Raul carries the day in several categories: total hits (191 to 154), stolen bases (32 to 12), and batting average (.310 to .269). Betts, meanwhile, edges him out on total runs (117 to 95), homers (35 to 30), and walks (55 to 44). The pair are nearly tied on RBI, strikeouts, and on-base percentage.

Mondesí vs. Betts on Offense

Rk Name Year Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB OPS+
Rk Name Year Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB OPS+
1 Raul Mondesí 1997 26 159 670 616 95 191 42 5 30 87 32 15 44 105 0.31 0.36 0.541 0.901 333 11 6 1 3 7 140
2 Mookie Betts 2022 29 142 639 572 117 154 40 3 35 82 12 2 55 104 0.269 0.34 0.533 0.873 305 8 8 0 4 0 136

On Defense

Mondesí and Betts both had above-average fielding percentages — .989 and .994 — in their respective seasons. They also scored in the same neighborhood on putouts, with 336 for Mondesí and 298 for Betts.

Betts is known for his spectacular throws out of right field. We’ve all seen runners barreling toward the next bag, assumed they’d reach easily, and then roared with awe when Betts managed to throw the longest, most perfect shot for an out. It’s no wonder he had 15 defensive runs saved above average this year.

Mondesí was an exciting right fielder as well, and he knew it. “I don’t know why they keep running on me,” Mondesi told the L.A. Times in 1994. “They know I’m going to throw them out.” He won Rookie of the Year that season.

Mondesí became only the second Dodger to win two Gold Glove awards when he took home the honor in 1997, joining Willie Davis (1971 and 1973) in that category. There have been two additions since then: Matt Kemp (2009 and 2011) and Mookie Betts (2020 and 2022).

Mondesí vs. Betts on Defense

Name Year Age Tm Pos Lg G GS CG Inn Ch PO A E DP Fld% Rtot Rdrs Rtot/yr Rdrs/yr RF/9 RF/G lgFld% lgRF9 lgRFG Awards
Name Year Age Tm Pos Lg G GS CG Inn Ch PO A E DP Fld% Rtot Rdrs Rtot/yr Rdrs/yr RF/9 RF/G lgFld% lgRF9 lgRFG Awards
Raul Mondesí 1997 26 LAD RF NL 159 157 145 1390 350 336 10 4 0 0.989 11 10 2.24 2.18 0.977 2.04 2.03 MVP-15,GG
Mookie Betts 2022 29 LAD RF NL 136 133 119 1154.1 308 298 8 2 4 0.994 31 15 32 16 2.39 2.25 0.985 2.07 2.04 AS,MVP-5,GG,SS

League Leads, Career Highs, and Honors

Mondesí won his second Gold Glove award in 1997 and garnered 15th place in MVP voting. Betts, meanwhile, earned 5th in MVP voting alongside his Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. He also made it to the All-Star Game for the fifth time, won Fielding Bible’s award for best defensive right fielder for the fifth time, and was a finalist for the Hank Aaron award.

In terms of records, Betts’s 35 homers were the most he’s hit in his career. He tied for most runs in the National League with teammate Freddie Freeman at 117.