Mookie Betts a finalist for NL MVP Award in first year with Dodgers – Press Enterprise
Mookie Betts’ first season with the Dodgers was capped by the franchise’s first World Series title in 32 years. An MVP award would be icing on the cake.
The right fielder was announced as one of the three finalists for the National League MVP Award on Monday along with Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman and San Diego third baseman Manny Machado.
Freeman, an El Modena High product, is considered the frontrunner for the award. But if Betts wins, he would join Hall of Famer Frank Robinson as the only player to win an MVP award in both leagues. Robinson was named NL MVP in 1961 with the Cincinnati Reds and AL MVP in 1966, his first season with the Baltimore Orioles. Betts won the AL MVP with the Boston Red Sox in 2018.
Acquired from the Boston Red Sox on the eve of spring training, Betts stamped himself as a leader on the first day of full-squad workouts, standing up in front of the team to point the way to a World Series championship.
But just a few weeks later, there was reason to wonder if Betts would ever play a game that counted in a Dodgers uniform. Baseball shut down for four months during the coronavirus pandemic.
Then July came and MLB came back. Even before the games started, Betts shocked the baseball world by agreeing to a 12-year, $365 million contract extension with the Dodgers – then he went about proving why the Dodgers believe he will be worth every penny of it.
Betts batted .292 with a .927 OPS and 16 home runs (tied for third in the National League). A Gold Glove finalist in right field, Betts led all major-leaguers with a 3.4 WAR.
After a misguided attempt to move Betts between first and second in the lineup, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts put Betts in the leadoff spot he prefers to stay on Aug. 13. Betts hit three home runs that night and the Dodgers went 44-15 from that night on, including their postseason run culminating in the franchise’s first World Series title since 1988.
Freeman batted .341 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs for NL East champion Atlanta, and Machado hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres, who were the runner-up to the Dodgers in the NL West and then were swept by the Dodgers in a best-of-five NL Division Series.
Among the other award finalists, Dodgers rookies Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin did not crack the top three in voting for the NL Rookie of the Year. San Diego infielder Jake Cronenworth, Milwaukee relief pitcher Devin Williams and Philadelphia infielder Alec Bohm were the three finalists for the award.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did not finish in the top three for the NL Manager of the Year, either. Roberts won the award in 2016, his first season, and this year’s finalists include two first-year managers – San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and Chicago’s David Ross – plus former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who guided the Miami Marlins through a coronavirus outbreak and to a winning record (31-29) for the first time since 2009.
Former Dodgers Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu are finalists for the AL Cy Young Award in their first seasons with new teams (the Twins and Blue Jays, respectively) but no Dodgers pitcher finished in the top three of voting for this year’s NL Cy Young Award. Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom (the 2018 and 2019 winner), Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer (a free agent this winter) and former Dodger Yu Darvish (now with the Chicago Cubs) are this year’s finalists.
Bauer, who starred at Hart High and UCLA, is considered the NL Cy Young favorite after going 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts, striking out 100 across 73 innings. He yielded two or fewer earned runs in all five of his September starts, helping the Reds to their first postseason berth in seven years.
Bauer led the league in ERA, WHIP (0.795) and fewest hits per nine innings (5.1). He can become the first Cy Young winner to reach free agency in the same year since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in 1992.
All of the BBWAA award winners will be announced next week at 3 p.m. daily on MLB Network – Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year (Monday, Nov. 9), Manager of the Year (Tuesday, Nov. 10), Cy Young Award (Wednesday, Nov. 11) and Most Valuable Player (Thursday, Nov. 12).