Boston Red Sox outfielder Mooki Betts has mysteriously struggled against left-handed pitching this year but he took a lefty deep against the Royals.
Mookie Betts has taken a step back from the MVP performance he showcased last season with the Boston Red Sox. He’s still among the elite five-tool players in baseball but his baffling struggles against left-handed pitching have put a damper on his offensive production.
Betts entered the day with a shockingly low .194 average and .528 OPS against lefties this season. Only three of his 12 hits went for extra bases, all doubles, and he had driven in only four runs.
This is a drastic change of pace for a hitter who has historically faired slightly better against southpaws with a .302/.375/.522 career slash line.
It was only a matter of time before this trend reversed course and we may have seen signs of this happening in Thursday’s game in Kansas City. After falling behind in the count 0-2, Betts took a changeup over the plate from Royals starter Danny Duffy and deposited it into the bullpen in left field.
This wasn’t a case of Betts taking advantage of a pitcher who has been a dumpster fire either. Duffy is a veteran having a solid season who usually pitches well at home.
He’s also been one of the rare reverse-split lefties this season, holding right-handed bats to a .235 average and .670 OPS while lefty bats have clobbered him to the tune of a .353 average and .995 OPS. It’s a small sample that diverges from Duffy’s career splits. However, this season’s results from the pitcher and hitter leaned in favor of Duffy.
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It’s worth noting that Duffy was ailing a bit after getting drilled by a line drive off the bat of Eduardo Nunez at the end of the second inning. Duffy tried to battle through it but clearly wasn’t himself. He hit Jackie Bradley Jr. with a pitch to begin the next inning and Betts followed up with his two-run homer to tie the game.
Perhaps we should take the results from Betts with a grain of salt considering Duffy probably shouldn’t have been sent back to the mound. On the other hand, it’s not as if Betts is incapable of mashing left-handed pitching. We have plenty of evidence to the contrary from previous seasons. For whatever reason, he’s been in a funk against southpaws this year but one big hit could be all he needs to get back on track.
Now that Betts finally has his first homer against a lefty, the floodgates have opened and the superstar production could come rushing back. Don’t be surprised if the reigning MVP suddenly goes off on a torrid stretch heading into the summer months.