As the calendar turns to the new year, we begin our series of breaking down every Dodger’s 2021 Zips Projections. Who will be overrated? Who will be the unsung hero? We have some ideas starting right here with the projected number 1, Mookie Betts.
- Mookie’s 2021 Projections
- Fantasy Ranking
- Mookie’s 2020 and Career Recap
- Our Predictions
Mookie comes in to 2021 as the undisputed right fielder and leadoff hitter for the reigning World Series Champions. He’ll be in his age 28 season as he hopefully plays his first full season for the Dodgers.
He’s projected a top of the league 654 plate appearances not counting the postseason. Here’s how he’s projecting.
- 6.5 WAR, .286/.370/.529, 138 OPS+
- 32 HR, 117 R, 98 RBI, 36 2B, 3 3B, 24/28 SB
- 75 BB to 100 K
- DEF Rating of 15
He’s expected to be the most valuable Dodger by WAR next year through his combination of exceptional defense and hitting again. Mix that with the protection Corey Seager offers him and Mookie is looking to find himself as an MVP finalist again.
We actually think he’s being slightly undervalued in these projections as well. Mookie has a career line of .301/.373/.522 that get’s dragged down by his lackluster 2017. Outside of that one .264 season, Mookie hasn’t finished a season with a BA below .291 in his career. His OBP still looks about right as well as his SLG.
32 homers would tie his career high, but Mookie seems capable of even 40 as he enters the prime of his career. Some of those doubles may actually turn into homers in reality. We also think he should steal more than 24 bags next year.
The Dodgers took a major leap forward stealing bags in 2020. They jumped to 12th in the league compared to tied for 21st of 30 in 2019. A change that seemed to coincide with Betts atop the lineup. He paced the team with 10 bags in his 55 games, not counting the postseason. So we paced Betts for closer to 30 with the ceiling around 40 if Betts somehow goes for 40/40 this year (hint… hint..)
Otherwise, we totally agree that Betts should project as one of the top Dodgers and players in the league. Of course he may not end the year as the most valuable Dodger, but we would be dumbfounded to see him finish outside of the top 3. Top 5 maybe if other Dodgers take massive leaps or have career years. But no one seems to be as consistent with all 5 tools as Betts on this roster.
Right now Mookie is projected as the number 1 overall pick by ESPN in Category leagues. If you’re lucky enough to have the number 1 overall pick, you can fell comfortable picking Mookie knowing he’s about as sure of a 5 cat producer as there is in baseball right now.
However, we do have to say there are two players we feel ok taking over Mookie still.
- Mike Trout
- Juan Soto
Trout is just a year older and has more power than speed when you compare him to Betts. However, homers add to 4 offensive categories where stolen bases are just one. Otherwise, we may only give Betts the edges in runs over Trout next year. Even then Trout produces better in 3 of 5 offensive cats.
Juan Soto is our MVP pick for next season. He’s still only 22 and may be the must watch player of the MLB. He started last season late but still hit .351 with a 1.185 OPS in 47 games. He walked 41 times compared to only 28 strikeouts. He hit a homer 1 in every 12 at bats. He hit doubles at the same rate. As for bags, he stole 6 of 8.
If you can draft Soto at any position do not hesitate. He is a great pick points, cats, or just about any baseball league you play in. If you want a very early pick at MVP, you have it.
Betts 2020 And Career Recap
We just wanted to do a quick list of the accolades Betts has received in his 849 MLB games.
- Gold Gloves (5)
- Silver Sluggers (4)
- All Star (4)
- Wilson Defensive POtY (2)
- MVP Award (1)
- 2nd Place MVP finishes (2)
- AL batting title (1)
- 1st Team All-MLB (1)
- 2nd Team All-MLB (1)
- 6th, 8th, 19th place finishes in MVP
As we mentioned earlier, he’s been elite for 6 of his 7 years. He was just good in 2017 at age 24. It was a “disappointing” season as Betts followed up his best season up to that point with a regressed .264/.344/.459. Still an .803 OPS, or 8% above average for that year, is an excellent floor.
If you look closer, Betts actually took a leap forward at the plate that year. His batting average went down, but his walk rate almost doubled. The 80 point difference between BA and OBP was a career high. He was a more efficient base runner. His homer total went down, but his doubles went up by almost the same amount. Heck, he still finished 6th in the MVP voting on his worst year in the bigs.
Did it translate to LA? Ask Mookie’s new ring. It seems that Mookie is still trending upwards as far as his average expectation. He may never top his 2018 masterpiece of a season that won him the MVP, but Betts seems to improve his game every year so far.
For the Dodgers he slashed a typical Mookie .292/.366/.562. in 55 games. He had a career home run rate finishing the shortened year with 16 bombs while stealing 10 of 12 bags. He scored 47 times and knocked in 39 from atop the lineup.
He won the Gold Glove, the Silver slugger, placed 2nd in MVP voting, finished the year 49% better than the average batter, and walked away with another ring. He produced 3.6 WAR which would pace for around 10 WAR in a full season. His most since 10.6 in that MVP year.
2020 was his best season outside of the MVP outlier. 2019 his best season before that. 2018 same story. 2017 “bad” outlier year. 2016 to 2014 the story goes on. Betts is still climbing and who knows how long or high he can go. But we’ll take some guesses.
- Mookie attempts to go for 40HR/40SB or 30/30 if it’s a shortened, 140 game season
- Mookie Wins Another Gold Glove, but not the Silver Slugger
- Mookie MVP finalist again