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Mookie Betts and the fastest to 50 runs scored

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mookie Betts homered as part of the Dodgers’ comeback on Monday, a game they eventually lost to the Pirates. It was the National League-leading 15th home run of the season for Betts, and his 12th of the month.

There’s still one game left in May, and we’ll get to Betts’ amazing month once May actually ends — spoiler alert: it’s one of the best months in Dodgers history — but he reached a nice shiny round number on Monday night that deserves its own recognition.

When Betts homered, he scored his 50th run of the season. Monday was his 46th game played in 2022. Scoring at least as many runs as games played is ultra rare. Ronald Acuña Jr. scored 46 runs in 46 games for Atlanta in the truncated 2020 season, but the only player to do so in a full season in the last 70-plus years was Rickey Henderson, who scored 146 runs in 143 games in 1985.

The Dodgers have played 48 games, which makes Betts’ accomplishment even more impressive. He’s the fastest to 50 runs scored by a Dodger since 1930, when Babe Herman got to 50 runs in 43 team games and Johnny Frederick did so in 47 games.

MLB runs scored leaders

Player Team Runs
Player Team Runs
Mookie Betts LA 50
Rafael Devers Bos 38
Aaron Judge NYY 38
Mike Trout Ana 37
Francisco Lindor NYM 37
Tommy Edman StL 37
through May 30, 2022

Context matters, and 1930 was the highest-scoring season in modern major league history, with MLB teams averaging 5.49 runs scored per game. The National League averaged 5.68 runs per game. This season, MLB teams are scoring 4.26 runs per contest, by comparison.

The only other Dodger to score 50 runs as fast as Betts was Wee Willie Keeler, who also needed 48 Brooklyn games to do so in 1901. The previous fastest Los Angeles Dodger to reach 50 runs was Davey Lopes, who reached it in 55 games in 1979.

It’s not just Dodgers lore where Betts is making his mark. The only time in the last two decades anyone in the majors got to 50 runs scored this fast was Lance Berkman, who scored his 50th run in the Astros’ 48th game.

Before that, you’d have to go back to 2000 — the last time MLB teams averaged five runs per game (5.14 that year) — to find players getting to 50 runs this fast. Alex Rodriguez got to 50 runs in the Mariners’ 46th game that season, while Todd Helton and Jim Edmonds did so in their teams’ 48th game.

Leading the majors in runs scored isn’t new for Betts, who since the beginning of his first full season (2015) has scored more runs than anyone else (769) by a wide margin, 67 more runs than his closest competitor.

Betts led the majors in runs scored in 2018 and 2019 with the Red Sox. During his 2018 MVP season, Betts got to 50 runs in Boston’s 51st game. That year he scored 129 runs in 136 games played.

Whether Betts can keep up his run-per-game pace remains to be seen, but even slowing down a bit would be noteworthy. Since moving to Los Angeles, only four Dodgers have scored at least 120 runs in a season, topping out at 130 runs by Maury Wills in his 1962 MVP season.

Betts has scored at least 120 runs three times (2016, 2018, 2019), topping out at 135 runs in 2019.

Since Betts joined the Dodgers, the team is 111-25 (.816) when he scores a run and 71-63 (.530) when he doesn’t. This year they are 27-6 (.818) when Betts scores and 6-9 (.400) when he doesn’t.