Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman have had MVP seasons – but probably won’t win the award – Press Enterprise
DENVER — It’s all over but the counting – after a summer filled with some historic numbers.
Ronald Acuña Jr. – the charter and sole member of the 40-60 club – would seem to have sewn up the National League’s MVP award with a .371 batting average and six home runs in his past 15 games.
Mookie Betts put on the heat in August but has hit just .254 in September with only one home run (stalling at 39). He had two hits in the Dodgers’ 4-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader (only his second multi-hit game this month) and sat out the Dodgers’ 11-2 win in the nightcap.
“I don’t know, man. MVP is cool, but it’s kind of irrelevant,” Betts said Tuesday. “We play to win the World Series. Individual goals are really cool and some people play for that and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But me, I play because I want to win. If I play good, cool. I would love to play well, but as long as we win, that’s all I care about.
“There are so many guys that have played really good and there’s no argument to what Acuña has been doing.”
Betts said he has “absolutely not” been tracking his numbers or Acuña’s over the past month and has limited his exposure to social media. But he does acknowledge that teammate and friend J.D. Martinez put the MVP on his radar this season.
“He told me when he first signed. ‘Hey we’re gonna get you that,’” said Betts, who won the American League MVP award in 2018 with Martinez as his Boston Red Sox teammate. “That was kind of like a motivation thing to start the season. You set goals, right? You set goals and you want to achieve them. Do the goals matter at the end of the day, especially the personal ones? Not really. But it was a goal that was set at the beginning and you kind of forget about it until the time comes.”
Freddie Freeman has already met some of his personal goals – career-highs in hits (205) and stolen bases (22) – while joining Betts as an MVP candidate. Freeman hit his 58th double and 27th home run of the season as the Dodgers handed the Rockies their 100th loss of the season in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Freeman and J.D. Martinez now have 98 RBIs each and could give the Dodgers four players with 100 RBIs in the same season for the first time in franchise history (Max Muncy and Betts are already over the 100-RBI mark).
“Trying not to think about it,” Freeman said of the statistical milestones he could reach.
“I know we’ve clinched and all you’ve got to talk about now is individual numbers. But if you do that, that’s how you start sliding. You start pressing. You start chasing. You put yourself in bad habits. If I need to move a runner over, I’m going to pull it and try to help this team win. If you play like that, you’ll get rewarded.”
Rookies Ryan Pepiot, Bobby Miller and Michael Grove combined to pitch 14⅓ innings of Tuesday’s doubleheader, allowing just three runs.
Caleb Ferguson made his seventh appearance as an opener in the first game and allowed three runs. Letting Pepiot make a traditional start would have been a better idea. He held the Rockies scoreless into the seventh inning before giving up a home run to Nolan Jones. Pepiot struck out nine in six innings and got 19 swings-and-misses – 16 on his changeup.
Since his late arrival (due to a late spring rib cage injury), Pepiot has a 1.85 ERA over 39 innings with 35 strikeouts and four walks.
“It’s really not a lack of confidence in him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of using Ferguson in front of Pepiot.
In the nightcap, Miller went seven innings for the third time in his past five starts, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out a career-high nine.
“Those three guys (the rookies) … it’s just good to see because, you know, sometimes this ballpark, pitchers scare away from it. And it didn’t affect these guys at all,” Roberts said.
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