The Dodgers have the best Big 3 in baseball

August 28th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Juan Toribio’s Dodgers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

For four years, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh ran the city of Miami, forming one of the most dominant Big 3s in sports history. This weekend, it’s been the Dodgers’ Big 3’s turn to take their talents to South Beach -- well, Little Havana.

, and are, almost inarguably, the best three-headed monster in the sport. All three of them are All-Stars and would easily be the best hitter in any other lineup.

Despite missing three weeks with a fractured rib, Betts, 2018’s AL MVP, leads the Dodgers with 30 homers. Freeman and Turner, on the other hand, have started every game this season and are fighting each other for the MLB lead in hits.

The talent of the trio is indisputable. It becomes suffocating for opposing pitching staffs. But, according to everyone around the team, what has made this trio so successful this season has been their ability to push each other to be even better.

“I think the thing that I really have a lot of solace and peace of mind in is we have talent, but they’re also the right players for us,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “They really are. They’re smart players, and they are team-first guys.”

Baseball isn’t like basketball. It might not take as long for three star players to gel as it does in basketball. And unlike the NBA, having three star players doesn’t necessarily guarantee the same level of success in MLB. This trio of Betts, Turner and Freeman, however, just seems to work.

A few months ago, as Betts returned from the injured list, the three stars had a brief conversation with Roberts about the batting order. Betts has hit leadoff the entire season, but Turner had plenty of success in the spot in Betts’ absence. Freeman had been a fixture in the two-hole.

But after a quick talk, it was decided that Betts would stay atop the lineup and Freeman and Turner were going to swap spots. That change has made the Dodgers even more potent, going 38-9 in games they trot out a Betts-Turner-Freeman order. The team was averaging a Major League-leading 6.15 runs per game heading into Saturday.

“I heard their thoughts and basically they came up with that. I agreed and I like it because it’s just more powerful, because it holds them accountable, too, based on where they’re at,” Roberts said. “It worked out really well.”

Betts and Freeman have developed a strong friendship this season. Their families have even taken to traveling together on some road trips. The two ride the same buses in road cities. At the ballpark, Freeman has encouraged Betts to hit more in the batting cage, helping him stay fresh for games.

Turner has also encouraged Betts to be more aggressive early in counts. Betts, who tends to be more passive at the plate, has already swung at the first pitch 44 more times than he did last season.

“I think having Trea and Freddie here has definitely changed my perspective on hitting,” Betts said. “They’re really my backbones and who I talk to. … They basically showed me the way.”

After the 2022 season, Freeman and Betts will be Dodgers for at least five more seasons. Turner, on the other hand, is a free agent at the end of the year. With the way the three stars have meshed, trying to re-sign him will be a priority this offseason.

If a deal gets done this winter and the Dodgers have the trio locked up long-term, maybe they’ll take a page out of the Miami Heat playbook and tell the baseball world they’re ready to win not one [championship], not two, not three, not four …