All for the Mookie
Mookie Betts (LAD): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB.
The Braves and Dodgers began a pivotal 4 game series Thursday night and the usual suspects showed up. The Braves were able to hang onto a one-run lead to start the series off with a win, but I’m sure like many others watching, it was the first game that felt truly like a playoff game. October draws ever nearer and we are most likely going to see these two teams in the NLDS, although, it feels like the Phillies could pull something fun off. This series is going to be a good one, and if it was anything like this first game, we are in for a treat.
But Seth, you didn’t talk about a player. Dear reader, I know I didn’t, and I’m sorry. I wanted to frame where we are in the season, and how this Braves/Dodgers series is a big one. There are ample superstars in this series but none shine brighter than Mookie Betts and Ronald Acuña Jr. Mookie won the first battle, I guess one could say, by putting up the better offensive game and being the featured player. However, Acuna and the Braves won the game, so maybe Mookie didn’t indeed win the battle. The featured hitter could just as easily have been Acuña, but tonight I wanted to showcase Mookie Betts and what he has been doing as of late. And oh yeah, it was Mookie’s 250th career home run. It feels like he will hit 500 in his career. I know he’s 30 already, but he is just too good.
August is over. Let’s look at Mookie’s August stats shall we? His slash line was .455/.516/.839, which I can safely say is pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. In fact, I can’t remember seeing a slug above .800 over the course of a month. He had 51 hits, which isn’t Tris Speaker’s most hits in a month record of 67, but it’s worth pointing out. And when can you bring up Tris Speaker casually? Not often. And finally, he was able to add 11 home runs as well. Mookie is special, plain and simple. If I were a Red Sox fan I’d be 12 years old again, but I’d also be unhappy about the Mookie Betts deal (even though Alex Verdugo is good, just not Mookie good).
I can’t say if that was Mookie’s best month of his career, but I can say Mookie had a month at the plate that most baseball players only dream of. I cannot wait to watch this full series. The Dodgers feel a bit top-heavy, whereas the Braves are stacked head to toe. But, as someone who roots for a team in the NL West that rhymes with Shmolorado Dockies, the Dodgers are in every game, no matter what.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday
Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL): 3-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB, SB.
Honestly, Acuña should be the highlighted player 2 or something. The game he had at Chavez Ravine was absurd, smacking a grand slam and helping his team walk away with the W. Firmly in the, what else is there to say category. Truly, what else is there to say? He’s 100% healthy. Last year it was clear his knee was still bothering him when taking swings cause he was unable to generate much power. This year, he is having one of those rare years when watching him at the plate, it’s easy to feel like he is going to get on base every at-bat. The NL West MVP race is going to come down to Mookie and Acuña. Mookie has turned it on in a massive way down the stretch, but I’d give it to Acuna cause he’s been an absolute menace all year.
Anthony Volpe (NYY): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Enough about the Braves and Dodgers, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite baseball-related thing. No, I’m not talking about waking up to 12 different Elly De La Cruz highlights on my timeline cause he threw a ball hard, I’m talking about the Yankees. Anthony Volpe had an impossible assignment heading into the year. The kid is from New York, he was a highly touted prospect, and he was starting Opening Day. Jeter comparisons were being thrown around. What a thing to place on a kid’s shoulders. He hasn’t been perfect in his first year but the talent is clearly there. The Yankees need to put this season behind them and focus on what they can do right in 2024. One main thing they can do right is to continue to lean into Volpe as their next stud.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
I am annoyingly still in on Jazz Chisolm. I understand he has an injury history and this year solidified that history. I even traded him in my dynasty league for Gausman, which hey, still looking okay. Could bite me long term. But, down the stretch, Jazz could be a league winner. The only thing I’m concerned about is he is not trying to steal as many bases as usual. He has 2 in August on 3 attempts. I’m guessing a coach got in his ear in hopes of staying healthy. When he’s on the field, he’s a premier talent.
Mike Yastrzemski (SF): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Papa Yaz really wants to bring post-season baseball to the Bay. Yaz was activated from the IL on Wednesday and is already helping the Giants win games. I’ve used him as a 4th outfielder before in a pinch; when he is on the field he is usually capable of hitting a home run or two. I wouldn’t bank on a ton of production here, but if your outfield is thin, he is worth a pick up if there’s space.
Michael Harris II (ATL): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Back to the Dodgers and Braves game for a few players; there weren’t a lot of games on Thursday. Michael Harris II is in the 2 hole and I for one am ecstatic about that. I know that usually only happens when Albies is either hurt or needs a breather, but let me have this one. Harris added a solo home run Thursday on the way to a victory over the Dodgers. Many saw Harris being a bust this year, and in many ways, maybe he has been. I need to remind myself though that Michael Harris II is 22. After a slow start, he has looked like the Harris we know and love.
Max Muncy (LAD): 1-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Muncy is having the most Kyle Schwarber season possible that even Kyle Schwarber is most likely jealous. He is barely over the Mendoza line but he has an OPS of .832. That’ll work. Muncy did what he does best and hit a 2 run home run Thursday to inch the Dodgers closer to the Braves. A name came up today cause he started a rehab assignment. Chris Paddack. I bring him up here because in 2019 I traded Chris Paddack for Max Munch in a dynasty league. That has worked out.
Michael Busch (LAD): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.
I was going to mention Austin Riley hit a solo home run but the Braves just do that. In one week’s write-up, I even had to create a “Braves” category.
I briefly want to talk about Michael Busch. Busch has put up monster numbers in AAA (.323/.432/.615, 24 home runs, 61 walks to 80 strikeouts), but since there is a log jam in the Dodgers infield, regular playing time has eluded him. So far at the major league level he has been unable to find success, so seeing a solo home run was encouraging. I don’t think they play him much but he is a player to keep an eye on due to his absurd AAA numbers. Please play him, Dave.
Kerry Carpenter (DET): 2-5, R, RBI, SB.
Carpenter has been a great story for the 2023 season. The Tigers seem to have found their core for years to come in Carpenter, Spencer Torkelson, and Riley Greene. Carpenter hits the ball hard and so far, has shown a great approach at the plate. He is someone I am eyeing for 2024. Could be a sneaky good late-ish round pick-up.
Josh Bell (MIA): 3-5, R.
Since there were only 4 games and not a ton of offense I wanted to shout out Josh Bell as the last player. Bell came over to Miami for basically nothing; the Guardians shipped him to Miami to essentially get rid of his contract. So far in Miami, though, Bell has looked like the Bell of old. I think he has played himself into an extension in South Beach. Fun fact, I waited on him in Chicago when he was a Pirate. Unsurprisingly, he is a great dude.