By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Take solace, Red Sox followers, as there may be something to celebrate during the 2020 baseball campaign, The Season That Never Was. Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers are on the cusp of elimination, and Betts has again turned as surely as the autumn leaves.
Say hello to Mr. Ought-tober.
In case you weren’t watching – and why would you have been? – Betts and the Dodgers were pummeled by the Atlanta Braves in a 10-2 defeat last night in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. The Dodgers now face a 3-1 series deficit entering Game 5 tonight, when they could be bounced from the playoffs for the eighth straight year, shortened season or no shortened season, pandemic or not.
Meanwhile, Betts is now 2-for-14 in the NLCS (a .143 average). This postseason, in 40 plate appearances including 33 official at-bats, he has no home runs. The Dodgers have hit nine home runs in their current series and 11 in the postseason overall – but the man who tied teammate A.J. Pollock for the team lead with 16 during the regular season does not have a single one of them.
For his postseason career, Betts now has one home run in 139 plate appearances, including 121 official at-bats, with a career postseason average of .240. His career postseason OPS is .695. Betts overall numbers this postseason are better than usual - .273 average and .799 OPS – but they are well below his typical putout during the regular season, especially this year, when he posted a .927 OPS that was the second-best of his career to only the 1.078 he put up during the Red Sox’ World Series-winning season of 2018.
That same year, Mookie hit his only career postseason home run. In the final game of the World Series. Against legendary postseason choker and current teammate Clayton Kershaw. With the Red Sox already holding a 2-1 lead. With another postseason loss last night, Kershaw has allowed 27 career postseason home runs, which means he hands out homers in October like they're Halloween candy.
Of course, we all know Betts is an excellent player. And truth be told, nobody should count out him or the Dodgers yet. (That’s part of the reason we’re pointing this all out now.) As we’re learning from the Houston Astros, who have closed their series deficit to 3-2 after falling behind by a 3-0 margin to the Tampa Bay Rays, it ain’t over `til it’s over. Especially in 2020, where there is no such thing as home field.
But Betts? To borrow a phrase, it is what it is. This season, he averaged a home run every 3.4 games. But Betts has now played 30 career playoff games and has one home run to go along with .240 average and .695 OPS, his underachievement this year coming for a franchise that hasn’t won a title since 1998 – and has won one in a non-shortened season since 1965 – and is now on the verge of being pounced from the playoffs for an eighth straight year.
Today, for now, it certainly feels like Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers were made for each other.