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Team Performance

Blockbuster Fallout: Dissecting the Dodgers’ Haul in the Historic Mookie Betts Trade

By: Taylor Bechtold

Instead of lobbying for someone to gift them 2017 and 2018 Commissioner’s Trophies in the wake of two cheating scandals, the Los Angeles Dodgers have chosen to take matters into their own hands.

Desperate to win their first World Series title in 32 years after coming up short in seven straight postseasons, the Dodgers have finally completed a bold move to acquire four-time All Star and 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and former All-Star left-hander David Price from the Boston Red Sox, who opted to move Betts after failing to come to an agreement with him on an extension.

The historic deal is reportedly done after the original agreement hit a snag and had to be reworked. The Betts acquisition has made the defending NL West champs since 2013 the clear favorites in the National League and second only to the New York Yankees to win it all. According to Bovada, the Dodgers’ odds of winning the World Series has moved from +700 to +400.

New Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts

So is Betts good enough to lead the Dodgers to their first championship since 1988? Well, other than Mike Trout, there’s likely no one in baseball better positioned to do so.

In fact, according to Stats Perform’s award-winning research team, Betts is the first position player to be traded after posting a Stats Perform WAR over 5 in four straight seasons with the same team since Ken Griffey Jr. was dealt from the Seattle Mariners to the Cincinnati Reds in February of 2000.

PlayerYearsWAR Year 1WAR Year 2WAR Year 3WAR Year 4Team Year 5
Eddie Collins, Phi1911-146.77.77.98.5White Sox
Tris Speaker, Bos1912-157.66.47.95.7Indians
Jimmie Foxx, Phi1932-359.39.47.67.9Red Sox
Rickey Henderson, Oak1981-846.66.07.26.4Yankees
Tonny Phillips, Det1991-945.65.35.15.4Angels
Kenny Lofton, Cle1993-968.08.15.36.2Braves
Ken Griffey Jr. Sea1996-997.37.46.55.6Reds
Mookie Betts, Bos2016-197.45.59.56.6Dodgers

He’s also one of only four position players to be moved in the offseason despite having accumulated a Stats Perform WAR greater than 28 over the previous four seasons.

He joins some elite company in that respect, with Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx and Alex Rodriguez being the others. Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols left their teams via free agency.

PlayerYearsWAR Year 1WAR Year 2WAR Year 3WAR Year 4Total WARAge Year 5Team Year 5
Eddie Collins, Phi1911-146.77.77.98.530.828White Sox
Jimmie Foxx, Phi1932-359.39.47.67.934.228Red Sox
Alex Rodriguez, Sea-Tex2000-039.68.99.27.134.928Yankees
Mookie Betts, Bos2016-197.45.59.56.629.028Dodgers

The 27-year-old Betts is a multi-tool star, having won three Silver Slugger Awards, four Gold Glove Awards and joining the 30-home run, 30-stolen bases club while also winning the AL batting title in 2018. Stats Perform’s advanced data reveals that the right fielder was almost just as good last season as he was during his AL MVP campaign.

In 2019, Betts hit .295 with 29 home runs and 80 RBIs and finished in the 94th percentile among all batters who faced at least 2,000 pitches with a 156.7 Raw Value+ rating, which is a proprietary cumulative measure of overall performance. Stats Perform’s Raw Value is a two-sided metric, with the “+” representing “positive” outcomes such as a home run. Betts had posted only a slightly better 160.3 Raw Value+ rating while hitting .346 with 32 homers and 80 RBIs to help the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series.

While the data shows he’s likely to hit National League pitching just as well, Betts’ overall production could see a dip because of where he now calls home. According to Stats Perform’s Park Factor, Betts is moving from the fourth easiest park (Fenway) to hit in – 11% better for a batter than the average MLB stadium – to the seventh most difficult place (Dodger Stadium) – 8% worse than the average park.

Still, he obviously becomes an upgrade over Joc Pederson, who played 122 games in the outfield and 107 as the team’s leadoff batter last season. The 27-year-old Pederson was headed to the Angels at one point last week before that trade fell through. Either way, Betts is expected to take playing time – and the leadoff spot – away from Pederson. But just how much of an upgrade is Betts?

Pederson, whose numbers were somewhat inflated because he faced mostly right-handed pitchers, placed in the 60th percentile in Raw Value+, 33rd percentile in Discipline+ and 43rd in Contact+ last season. Betts, on the other hand, was among the best in the game in each of those categories: 94th in Raw Value+, 88th in Discipline+ and 95th in Contact+.

Mookie Betts

SeasonContact+Discipline+Raw Value+
2014103.2124.2115.5
2015106.8109.397.2
2016109.1110.6118.3
2017108.2107.8120.6
2018106.9120.6160.3
2019109.2118.9156.7

Joc Pederson

SeasonContact+Discipline+Raw Value+
201493.6108.1101.1
201588.3105.6118.4
201695.699.0130.7
201798.9106.8116.1
201899.496.7112.1
2019100.098.8125.6

Stats Perform’s Discipline+ measures a hitter’s ability to swing at strikes and lay off balls, and Contact+ rates a hitter’s ability to generate frequent contact. Both metrics measure characteristics critical to a quality leadoff batter, which figures to be the role Betts will serve in Los Angeles.

Dodgers leadoff hitters were 26th in baseball with a .243 batting average, 18th with a .331 on-base percentage and 22nd with 4.47 plate appearances per strikeout (PA/K) in 2019 Betts tops the majors among those with at least 100 starts from the leadoff spot over the past two seasons with a .318 batting average and a .411 on-base percentage. He also ranks third among those with 600 plate appearances in the leadoff spot over the past two seasons with 6.75 PA/K.

New Dodgers left-hander David Price

Though Betts is certainly the headliner of this trade, don’t sleep on the Dodgers’ acquisition of Price. The former Cy Young Award winner and five-time All-Star could be rejuvenated at Chavez Ravine. Not only does the 34-year-old veteran stand to benefit from a move to one of the best pitchers’ parks in the league (as stated earlier), he’ll also face a weak-hitting pitcher every time through the order instead of another big-league batter. Price has gone 8-2 with a 2.96 ERA in his last 16 appearances – 14 starts – against NL clubs, including the playoffs.

According to Stats Perform’s innovative Framing Runs metric, Price isn’t expected to lose anything in terms of help behind the plate. Will Smith and Austin Barnes, the Dodgers’ projected catchers, had a combined 1.40 Framing Runs per 1,000 chances last season – better than the 1.22 mark Boston’s Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon posted by a slim margin.

Boston is set to receive highly touted outfielder Alex Verdugo, shortstop Jeter Downs and catcher Connor Wong from Los Angeles. In what’s now considered a separate deal, the Dodgers sent Kenta Maeda to the Minnesota Twins for Brusdar Graterol, outfield prospect Luke Raley and the 67th pick in this year’s draft after the Red Sox balked at acquiring Graterol in the original trade due to concerns over his medical records. The 21-year-old prospect has undergone Tommy John surgery and dealt with a shoulder issue last season.

With the blockbuster trade finally ironed out, a Dodgers team that won 106 games in 2019 has a historic acquisition that the iconic franchise hopes will lead to its seventh crown.

Advanced analytics and data analysis provided by Stats Perform’s Lucas Haupt