Betts on another level: 'I can't not put in the work'

Third career 5-hit game gets Dodgers back in the win column

April 17th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers came into Tuesday’s game against the Nationals in a little bit of a funk. They had lost four of their last five games and hadn't had a convincing win in quite some time.

That’s exactly when teams turn to their superstars to provide a lift. was up to the challenge in the Dodgers’ 6-2 win over the Nationals at Dodger Stadium, going 5-for-5 with a pair of runs scored and two RBIs.

It’s the third time in Betts’ career that he recorded five hits in a game, and the second time with the Dodgers (Aug. 23, 2023, at Cleveland).

“Having the stars be stars, that’s why they’re on our roster, and that’s why they’re superstars,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “So they've got to step up and carry us when we need it.”

Betts has had hot starts to a season before, and had one of his best months last August, but the success he’s enjoying early in the 2024 campaign is on another level, even for the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player.

Betts is at the top, or near the top, in just about every offensive category through 20 games. From the moment the lights turned on in Seoul, South Korea for the two-game series against the Padres, Betts has been leading the way for the Dodgers. As the Dodgers said during their ‘20 World Series run, as Betts goes, so do the Dodgers.

“You can’t really put extra pressure on yourself,” Betts said. “It’s not like I can just say, ‘Oh, I’m gonna get a hit.’ The game doesn’t really work that way. So the extra pressure is no good. We've just got to keep playing the game. That’s kind of all you can control.”

On Tuesday, it did feel like Betts could just say “I’m going to get a hit," and it would come true. He opened the game with a single off left-hander Patrick Corbin and came around to score the first run of the game. In the second, Betts followed with a double. He then topped it all off with two more singles and one more double.

With the five-hit performance, Betts now leads the Majors with 31 hits. He’s also tied for fourth in the Majors with six homers. His .388 batting average is also the best in the league. His .490 on-base percentage trails only the Nats' Jesse Winker, who has played four fewer games than Betts.

In just about every way, Betts has been nearly impossible to get out through the early part of the season.

“I think the thing that stands out most is his plate discipline,” Roberts said. “You know, he just is not chasing. He really is controlling the strike zone. Even to be able to get a hit the other way. He’s using the big part of the field. For me, yeah, he’s obviously locked in, but he’s just controlling the zone really well.”

Betts’ hot start at the plate is even more impressive considering he is also working on being a full-time shortstop at the big league level for the first time in his career. Before every game, Betts is taking ground balls for a few hours. Roberts said that with most players, the team would have to try to monitor the workload. But with Betts, there’s no doubt he can handle the heavy workload.

Right now, it’s impossible to argue with the results.

“I can’t not put in the work,” Betts said. “That’s me. I’m always going to put in the work. I’ll overwork before I take a day off. I just gotta figure it out.”