[Song Jae-woo’s Focus MLB] Betts Shows Physique Is Just a Number

Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves) is the No. 0 candidate for Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the National League (NL) of Major League Baseball (MLB) this season. The fifth player in MLB history to record a 40-homer, 40-double season, Acuna Jr. is on pace to become the first 40-homer, 70-double player in history. There are no “ifs” in baseball, but without Acuna Jr. the NL MVP award would very likely have gone to Los Angeles Dodgers leadoff man Mookie Betts.

Through 24 games, Betts is batting .309 (173-for-560) with 39 home runs and 105 RBIs. His on-base percentage (0.411) and slugging percentage (0.593) combine for a 1.003 OPS. His home runs (a career-high 35) are a career-high. Opened up the offense in the leadoff spot and drove in 125 runs. Has been a force in all areas of the offense, including stealing 13 bases.

캡틴토토Betts bulked up this past winter, increasing his weight from 76.5 kilograms to 80 kilograms. It’s interesting to note that he’s relatively small at 1.75 meters. It’s amazing that he’s able to hit for MLB-level power when he doesn’t have a huge frame compared to the average person. If Betts adds one more home run, he’ll become only the fourth player in MLB history to reach 40 home runs while standing at 1.75 meters or less. The previous players to do so were Mel Ott in 1929, Hack Wilson in 1930, and Roy Campanella in 1953. All three are legendary hitters who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame (HOF).

Players are getting bigger in North American professional sports, not just baseball. MLB is no exception. The legendary Willie Mays, who hit 660 home runs in his career, stood at 5-foot-8. Mays’ peak years lasted 12 years, from 1954 to 1965. During that time, only 18 players have ever played more than 3,000 at-bats at a height of 1.83 meters and a weight of more than 300 pounds. Narrow it down to 113 since 2014, when Betts’ MLB career began.

There are six players (Matt Olson, Pete Alonso, Kyle Schwarber, Shohei Ohtani, Akuna Jr. and Betts) who have hit or are on pace to hit 40 home runs in MLB this year. With the exception of Betts, the average height and weight of the rest of the athletes is 5-foot-8 and 101 pounds. In most sports, unless it’s a weight class, size is often directly related to power. In that world, Betts is more of an “outlier.

In modern baseball, good hitters are judged by experts on how well they fulfill the following criteria First, they must swing at good pitches to make contact. Then, they need to make strong contact and launch the ball over a decent height. But many experts agree that Betts is a hitter who can do all of these things.

Betts hits balls over 95 mph (152.9 km/h) with a 19% launch angle of 5 degrees or more. That’s 3.5 percentage points (p) ahead of Aaron Judge (New York Yankees – 15.5%), who has the most power in the league. Betts is far from the top in terms of batted ball speed and distance. His top bat speed this year is 110.1 mph (177.2 km/h), which ranks just 177th in the league. However, if it clears the fence by 120 or 150 meters, it’s a home run. Betts makes light work of his physical limitations with his accurate, strong swing and ability to launch the ball.

“Age is just a number,” he says. We applaud Betts for proving that size is also just a number.

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