This writeup appeared alongside many others in my new newsletter, Slayed by Voices. I still want to share Dodger news here, but if you’ve enjoyed my writing in the past, this is the focus of my attention now. Please check it out, share and subscribe.
In 2022, the Dodgers’ Marvelous Mookie Betts won the Gold Glove Award for National League right fielders, the sixth time in the past seven seasons he has won that honor as an outfielder.
Betts is also the only current Dodger outfielder guaranteed a starting spot in 2023. With Cody Bellinger gone and Chris Taylor coming off a terrible season, left and center field are currently wide open for contention among Taylor, Trayce Thompson and prospect James Outman. All three have potential for 2023, but none represents a comfortable choice for either job.
Nevertheless, with the Dodgers emerging as a not-quite-longshot to sign Aaron Judge, the 2022 American League Most Valuable Player who blasted 62 home runs, a weird line of thinking has arisen among some fans and media that in order to make room for Judge in the outfield, the Dodgers might move Betts to second base.
If you follow the Dodgers during the baseball season but lose track of them during the offseason, this conversation probably comes out of left fi— well, out of nowhere.
It’s true that like Betts, Judge is best suited for right field. It’s also true that Betts started five games at second base last year and has 25 starts there in his major-league career (out of 1,069 regular season games).
Some also argue that as Betts gets older (he turned 30 in October), a move away from the outfield would be easier on his legs, though I don’t see how all the start-stop, back-and-forth movement of the infield and the peril of turning the double play in the face of an oncoming runner isn’t as rough as gliding along in the outfield.
Regardless, none of this justifies moving perhaps the best defensive right fielder in the world from his position, especially when his laser throwing arm would be wasted at second base. And that’s especially true when you consider that:
- The Dodgers have more depth in the infield with Freddie Freeman, Gavin Lux and Max Muncy, plus rookie Miguel Vargas and probably Justin Turner assuming he comes back at a slighter salary) than they have in the outfield.
- Moving Betts to second base doesn’t solve their vacancy at shortstop, which Lux doesn’t seem equipped to play full time.
- If you’re going to move an outfielder to the infield, Taylor makes way more sense.
Nevertheless, someone got this Betts-to-infield premise and ran with it, logic be damned. If you hear more about it, just know that it’s as crazy as it sounds.