MLBbro great Mookie Betts has already established himself as one of the top players in all of baseball. His Los Angeles Dodgers are in a familiar position residing at the top of the National League West, with plans to make a run at another World Series title — the team’s first since 2020.
Not only is Mookie Betts one of the most consistent and reliable outfielders in the game, his knack for making timely contact with the baseball driving it all over the diamond is one of the more underrated yet impactful parts of the game. But when MLB Network made statistical comparisons to MLBbro icon Barry Bonds, even the staff of MLBbro.com was surprised…
Over the first 1,161 games of their prospective careers, both MLBbros Mookie Betts and Barry Bonds basically are neck and neck in production. Betts, started out with the Boston Red Sox back in 2014, was a four-time All-Star and collected an American League MVP by 2018.
Sadly, many MLB fans only recognize Barry Bonds after his career exploded in San Francisco when his home run bombs dominated teams on the field, commanding allegations of PED use.
Many forget that Bonds was a highly skilled MVP candidate with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In fact, during the first seven years of his career, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bonds won two MVP awards and finished second another season.
Let’s compare these two MLBbro superstars between the ages of 23-26:
Here’s our tribute to the MVP and two-time World Series champ. pic.twitter.com/pDabbPxYT1
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) May 14, 2023
In 597 games –
- 33.8 WAR (Measurement of a player’s value by figuring out the worth of wins over a replacement player)
- Hitting splits of .305/.382/.535
- 116 home runs
- 375 RBI
In 607 games –
- 32.0 WAR
- Hitting splits of .280/.383/.497
- 101 home runs
- 346 RBI
The accumulated numbers of Betts at this point of his career compared to Bonds is astounding.
Mookie eclipsed the All-time Home Run King in batting average, slugging percentages, home runs and RBI. Even though both players won an MVP in this timeframe, our current MLBbro star has something that the MLBbro icon does not. A World Series title.
Mookie Betts helped the Boston Red Sox win the title in 2018. Then won with the Dodgers in 2020.
Coincidentally both players’ tenures with their first teams would be ending around age 27.
Mookie’s Two-Strike Ability Keeps Him Tracking Bonds
Moving on from that three-year period to game 1,161, what keeps Mookie Betts’ stats so similar to Bonds at this point is his ability to navigate an at-bat with two strikes. In 2018, for example, take a look at the success of Betts and his discipline of selecting pitches in and out of the strike zone.
It shows that Mookie had taken his at bats to the next level in identifying pitches in the strike zone, thus cutting down on swinging at bad pitches. In the 2018 season, Betts improved his in-zone swing rate by four points and cut back his out of zone rate by 15.
To put this in simpler terms, our MLBbro put together a routine of swinging harder at strikes while cutting back on protecting zone edges. Betts looks for strikes to swing at and hits them hard.
Let’s look back at what Mookie Betts said to NBC Sports when the adjustments were made.
“My at-bats are a little bit different. I don’t really care about striking out that much,” Betts said. “I still want to be able to drive the ball with two strikes, the same way I do if it’s 2-0. So, I think I’m just keeping that same, aggressive, drive-the-ball mindset throughout the whole at-bat.”
How did it work out? Look at the comparisons to all time two strike greats at the plate. Betts was at the top of the list with other MLBbros dominating the chart with Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas and Rickey Henderson.
Even though this is a small sample size of the 2018 season, it does illustrate how Mookie has continued the consistency that Barry Bonds had in his prime. It also shows that this was the year where Mookie began to put everything together at the plate. The combination of quick hands and a sharp eye that ranks near the top of the major leagues, has our MLBbro in control of every at bat no matter what the count is.
Meaning that even when pitchers have two strike counts, Betts can still make them pay for mistakes… Just like Barry Bonds!
Mookie is unlikely to match Bonds power numbers and walk numbers, especially during his alleged PED period, but as far as consistent production is concerned and ranking amongst his peers, Betts has a lot of 2023 Barry Bonds in the way he approaches his craft.