At the dawn of a year 2021 which already promises to be rich in sport, between postponements (Olympic Games, Euro, etc.) and other competitions which should regain their cruising speed, let’s look again at this year 2020, to say the least, unprecedented. In each discipline, the impact of the health context was more or less important, nevertheless athletes marked the year of their discipline. This series of Sportsmen of the Year 2020 will allow us to take stock of the season of these champions, of those who made us vibrate this year, each in their specialty. Zoom today on Mookie Betts, outfield of the Los Angeles Dodgers in MLB, covered in gold upon his arrival in California.
A season under the sign of adaptation
Among the stars of the league for several seasons, Mookie Betts had been a great architect of the coronation of the Boston Red Sox in 2018. MVP that year, he had confirmed his status as top-outfielder who never left him. Unfortunately for him, Boston failed to ride the wave of his title and the franchise was heading in the opposite direction to what the player wanted. It is in this context that in 2020, Mookie Betts will set sail for the West of the country.
Fallen of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the World Series 2018, he will join them at the start of the 2020 season to allow the Californians to go for a title that has eluded them for too long. A safe bet in both attack and defense, he will adapt very quickly to establish himself as one of the leaders of his new franchise. Despite a shortened season, he has no trouble changing his environment and has delivered a very interesting year. In a franchise that outrageously dominates the NL West and the National League (only the Padres will try to resist them), he will be a key element and will finish second in the MVP vote in NL behind Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves).
On an individual level, he was on the basis of one of the best seasons of his career. If it is difficult to objectively compare a season of 60 games (55 for him) with other years where 162 games are played, it is clear that he was in the split times to beat some of his best marks in career. If he was not All Star for the first time since 2015 because of the cancellation of the event, Betts still leaves with two awards, one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger, achieving the double for the fourth time in his career.
His feat of arms in 2020: of the controlled World Series
However, even if he has been very good in the regular season, it is in the playoffs that Mookie Betts will show the full extent of his talent and why the Dodgers have decided to mount a trade to recover him during the off-season. Among the Dodgers players most present in the batting box in postseason, he was decisive in several offensive sectors during the first two rounds. More back offensively during NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, he was able to make his glove speak for the important moments before regaining the offensive impact in the most important games of the year.
Key factor – along with NLCS and World Series MVP Corey Seager – in the home stretch for the Dodgers, Mookie Betts once again proved why he is considered one of the most complete players in MLB. Powerful, quick and consistent in attack, calm and precise in defense, he was perhaps the missing piece for Los Angeles in their quest for the title. In his first season in California he therefore brought back the title for the Dodgers, thirty-two years after their last victory in World Series.
What prospects for 2021?
After a successful 2020 season despite special conditions, Mookie Betts will have to confirm his good adaptation this year. Signatory of a huge contract extension last summer ($ 365 million over 12 years, second largest contract in MLB history behind Mike Trout), he will have to justify the investment made by his franchise by delivering a new high season.
If he will have to perform on an individual level, Mookie Betts will also be judged on the collective success of the Dodgers. With one of the richest and best-built squads in the league, Los Angeles will aim for the double, a feat that has not been achieved since the New York Yankees hat-trick between 1998 and 2000. Second season in California and second title in prospect for Mookie Betts? With in addition a new MVP trophy to garnish his trophy cabinet?
Featured Image Credits: USA TODAY Sports