Mookie Betts comes with impossible expectations, both externally and by his own standards. After a season in which Betts was the driving force behind and the final piece of a Dodgers championship puzzle several years in the making, the outfielder in 2021 has been slowed by nagging injuries, suffered through slumps, and has had a season described as frustrating and, by his own words, “Bad.”
But that disappointing season has included Betts on pace for 37 doubles and 23 home runs. That’s good for a 131 OPS+ and 132 wRC+, making him a well above-average hitter, to go along with above-average defense in both right field in center field.
This is what the Dodgers paid for with their 12-year, $365 million contract for Betts, a “bad” season that is still excellent, making him a worthy All-Star selection even if not up to his own standards.
Betts finished fourth in fan balloting among National League outfielders, behind starters Ronald Acuña Jr., Nick Castellanos, and Jesse Winker. Betts was one of three outfielders selected to the roster as a reserve by the players, who had him fourth among NL outfielders. Betts said he was surprised that he was picked as an All-Star.
“It means the world to me just to know that,” Betts said of his selection by the players. “This shows that it’s more than just the stats. It’s a lot of things that go behind the selections.”
Betts won’t play in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, instead choosing to use the four days to rest after a first half that saw him deal with back, forearm, and shoulder issues while still leading the Dodgers in plate appearances.
“I think it’s just something that will best for myself, which in turn is going to help the team,” Betts said Saturday. “It’s just some nagging things that I think, with a few days away, will kind of go away. Playing every day, it’s tough to heal.”
This is the fifth consecutive All-Star selection for Betts, and his first (in his first opportunity) since joining the Dodgers. Betts started for the American League three times with the Red Sox — 2016 and 2018 in right field, 2017 in center field — and was named as a reserve by the players in 2019, but did not play.
Betts singled and scored in his first All-Star at-bat in 2016, but is 0-for-6 with a double play grounder and two strikeouts since.
Betts is hitting .256/.366/.472 with 13 home runs and 21 doubles. He ranks 13th in the National League in fWAR (2.6).
Before this season, 24 different Dodgers played in the outfield in an All-Star Game.
Duke Snider has the most All-Star outfield appearances in franchise history, with five. Snider was named an All-Star seven times — twice as a starter — and played in six games, but his first (1950) was as a pinch-hitter only.