The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball, but the 2021 season hasn’t exactly gone as planned.
At this point, in mid-August, they surely thought they would be leading the National League West division over the San Diego Padres.
Instead, their 68-45 record is good for second in the NL West, behind the incredibly surprising San Francisco Giants.
While San Francisco has obviously done things the right way this year, the Dodgers have also had to endure injuries to key performers all year long.
One of those frequently banged up players is outfielder Mookie Betts.
A Nagging Hip Injury
Betts has dealt with hip discomfort for large chunks of the season.
The injury has gotten to the point that the team is expected to place their star player on the 10-day injured list.
He had to depart Friday’s game with the pain and was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup.
Dave Roberts said Mookie Betts’ hip issue is “not going to go away.” He just had an IL stint, and it doesn’t appear this is something another stint would get rid of. https://t.co/tGTsMoqMPW
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 7, 2021
The Dodgers are known for managing workloads by sending players to the injured list very often, but since they are still theoretically fighting for a playoff spot, the message they are sending is that Betts’ discomfort is very much real and it’s affecting his game.
Judging by the numbers, Betts has been very good in 2021, but hasn’t been his MVP-like usual self.
The former MVP is hitting .277 with 68 runs, 17 homers, 44 RBI, seven stolen bases, and a .899 OPS.
Perhaps the injury is affecting his performance somewhat, and the Dodgers have to balance his health with their playoffs aspirations.
But it’s fair to wonder if Los Angeles would have World Series aspirations if they can’t have a healthy Betts.
They Should Be Considered Contenders Even Without Betts
Make no mistake: Betts is a generational talent, a gifted athlete who showed his worth last year in the Dodgers’ World Series run.
However, the Dodgers shouldn’t be counted out in the event he misses significant time with his injury.
Los Angeles is one of the best organizations in the league, with many resources and the desire to win it all.
They have many productive batters who would help cover Betts’ absence.
Losing a player like Betts for a significant amount of time always hurts, but the likes of Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Trea Turner, AJ Pollock, and others can certainly carry some of the burden.
There are many productive offensive players on the Dodgers’ roster, and the pitching is also equipped for a deep postseason run.
We should also point out the fact that the Boston Red Sox won the 2018 World Series with a struggling Betts.
Betts, who was the AL MVP that year, had a .566 OPS in the Divisional Series against the New York Yankees, .584 against Houston in the Championship Series, and .699 against the Dodgers in the World Series.
If the Red Sox did it, why can’t the Dodgers?
#Dodgers 2021 playoffs:
2B: T. Turner
SS: C. Seager
3B: J. Turner
C: W. Smith
Bench: Belli, Pujols, McKinstry, Beaty, Barnes
SP: Buehler, Kershaw, Scherzer, Urías
RP: Jansen, Treinen, Gonso, Price, Gonzalez, Nelson, Kelly & Graterol. pic.twitter.com/UvsUJ863jv
— Harry Ruiz (@harryruiz) July 30, 2021
If Los Angeles were to lose Betts to injury, it would certainly hurt, but we can’t just rule them out because of that.
They still have a lot of firepower and depth.