In the closing stages of the season, the National League MVP award remains up for grabs, with two formidable contenders in the spotlight. Currently, the coveted title is the subject of a fierce competition between Ronald Acuna of the Braves and the Dodgers’ superstar, Mookie Betts.
Both Acuna and Betts present strong cases for their MVP candidacy, given their exceptional performances across a myriad of offensive statistical categories. Dodgers’ General Manager, Brandon Gomes, however, believes that Betts holds a crucial edge due to his remarkable versatility.
Betts has showcased his adaptability by playing various positions on the baseball diamond throughout the year. Notably, he has logged a career-high number of games at second base while maintaining his elite defensive prowess in right field. This strategic maneuvering by Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts has ensured Betts’ impact is felt across the field.
“From our standpoint, his ability to play multiple positions speaks volumes,” Gomes said. “It has allowed us to get both of our corner outfielders — both (Jason) Heyward and (David) Peralta — into the lineup with regularity. … (Plus), if there’s a really tough lefty, we can hit one of our right-handed-hitting infielders, and we can kick (Betts) back out to right field, and we don’t miss a beat, defensively.”
One of Betts’ most notable and unexpected contributions this season has been his role at shortstop, a position he had never played before. Against all odds, Betts has taken on this challenge and appeared in 16 games at shortstop. In this role, he has emerged as one of the Dodgers’ most potent offensive threats from this position.
At present, Betts faces only one worthy competitor in Ronald Acuna for the MVP accolade. Acuna, the talented Braves outfielder, leads the league in crucial categories such as on-base percentage, OPS, runs scored, stolen bases, and hits.
“Prior to making some of the moves we did, we really didn’t have another shortstop,” Gomes said. “So for Mookie to go play shortstop at at least an average level, in addition to second and right field, really helped us keep our heads above water until we could get some reinforcements.”
While Betts ranks among the top five in all these categories, what might tip the scales in his favor is his higher Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for the season compared to Acuna. It’s a statistic that often reflects a player’s overall impact on their team’s success.
Gomes argues that despite Acuna’s impressive statistical achievements, Mookie Betts, the Dodgers’ star player, deserves serious consideration for the MVP award. This contention rests on Betts’ remarkable versatility and his ability to contribute substantially to the team’s success in multiple positions.
“You could argue passionately, if you’re just looking at statistics, both sides,” Gomes said. “You could say that Mookie definitely should have it, Ronald definitely should have it, and then adding that (versatility) layer on Mookie’s side, it just felt like it was an important piece for people to understand and digest.”
As we enter the final week of the regular season, the race for the National League MVP award is poised for a photo finish. It’s a showdown between two of the brightest stars in the league, representing the two best teams in the National League. Baseball enthusiasts everywhere are eagerly anticipating the outcome of this thrilling contest.
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