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Dodgers notes: Mookie Betts, Emmet Sheehan, Will Smith

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San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

While we wait for the second round of All-Star fan voting to open and think about the four Dodgers who might start in Seattle, here are some Dodgers stories to begin your weekend.

Mookie Betts does exceptionally well on inside pitches, hitting .329 with a .744 slugging percentage on such offerings through Thursday, well above the MLB marks of .244 and .423, respectively. Dominick Ricotta at Sports Info Solutions looked deeper into how Betts is able to have success on inside pitches.

While at Boston College, Emmet Sheehan used the downtime during the COVID-19 shutdown to improve his mechanics and work out at home. Jack Harris at the Los Angeles Times detailed how that hard work has paid off.

Catcher is a demanding position which requires regular days off, so it’s rare that a catcher will have as much playing time as regular players at other positions. But Leo Morgenstern at FanGraphs wrote about the unusually high number (13) of catchers who currently have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, a number that hasn’t been reached since 1891. That group this year includes Will Smith, who caught up this week after his 13 games missed in April while on the concussion injured list.

Morgenstern this week also ranked the admittedly small number of variations of Dodgers uniforms over at Just Baseball. He called the home white set “the best uniforms in baseball.”

In Friday’s The Windup newsletter at The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal offered a very broad, non-specific assessment of the trade deadline, that the Dodgers will be active though the level of available talent is relatively thin. “By the deadline, they should be poised to make a flurry of moves, if necessary,” Rosenthal wrote. “Even if their acquisitions are not as dramatic as in the past.”

Marc Normandin at Baseball Prospectus looked at the history of the MLB commissioner position, concluding that even if Rob Manfred were replaced, the job would still be pretty much the same:

Manfred might rub both players and fans the wrong way, as he’s openly antagonistic, petty, mean, and a rather unconvincing liar, but (most of) that has little to do with his role. The commissioner’s job is the same whether they’re publicly aggressive, timid as a mouse, or are easily mocked because they’re caught on camera picking their nose like Selig. The rest is noise that is meant to obscure the truth of things, which is that things won’t be “better” with another commissioner. The role requires a certain level of awfulness at its base, and no one who would do anything in the best interests of baseball will ever hold the role—now, in the best interests of Baseball, at least there’s some truth in that.

Ron Cey has a new autobiography out, ‘Penguin Power,’ written with Ken Gurnick. The exceptional Dodgers third baseman talked to Jon Weisman about the book, and his career, at Dodger Thoughts.

Speaking of books about notable 1981 Dodgers, Nathalie Alonso is writing a children’s book about Fernando Valenzuela, set for publication in 2026.