Where will LA slot Betts in lineup? Let's speculate

February 5th, 2020

The Dodgers were already projected to have the National League’s best lineup in 2020, and that was before they reportedly acquired former American League MVP in Tuesday’s blockbuster three-team trade. His addition leaves little doubt.

Now comes the fun part: Imagining just how Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will arrange his embarrassment of riches. In case you forgot, Los Angeles is coming off a season in which it set the NL’s single-season record with 279 home runs. And now you can add Betts, who has averaged 29 homers per year and slugged .535 since the start of 2016, to that mix.

There’s still more than seven weeks until Roberts hands over his Opening Day lineup card, so in the meantime let’s have fun with it. Below are some potential batting orders for the suddenly very potent 2020 Dodgers.

1) Mookie bats leadoff

1. Mookie Betts, RF (RHH)
2. Max Muncy, 1B (LHH)
3. Justin Turner, 3B (RHH)
4. Cody Bellinger, CF (LHH)
5. A.J. Pollock, LF (RHH)
6. Corey Seager, SS (LHH)
7. Gavin Lux, 2B (LHH)
8. Will Smith, C (RHH)

We certainly expect to see Betts get the lion’s share of his at-bats right at the top, where he’s hit nearly 70% of the time in his career thus far. Betts’ 139 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) since 2016 is tied for baseball’s 13th-best mark, so Roberts will want to get him as many plate appearances as possible. Betts was also a 30-30 player just two seasons ago and is only 27, so he can still create havoc with his legs in front of the mashers in Muncy, Turner and Bellinger.

Betts has led the Majors in runs scored in each of the last two seasons, a span in which he’s gotten on base more than 40% of the time. So yeah, he’d be the odds-on favorite to three-peat in that category with this lineup. Behind him is a lefty-righty, back-and-forth barrage that could give NL opponents absolute fits trying to match up. Tack on Walker Buehler or Clayton Kershaw as that day’s starting pitcher and the Dodgers could easily trot out seven former All-Stars on a semi-daily basis.

2) Mookie and Cody team up

1. Cody Bellinger, CF (LHH)
2. Mookie Betts, RF (RHH)
3. Justin Turner, 3B (RHH)
4. Max Muncy, 1B (LHH)
5. A.J. Pollock, LF (RHH)
6. Corey Seager, SS (LHH)
7. Gavin Lux, 2B (LHH)
8. Will Smith, C (RHH)

While Betts is the obvious leadoff choice, maybe Roberts will try to really step on the gas and put his two best hitters right up top. Bellinger has both the on-base ability (.406 OBP en route to his 2019 NL MVP Award) and top-end speed (15 steals, 90th percentile sprint speed) to set the table for Betts, who is obviously capable of driving in a run or two. It’s also not a stretch to envision the two of them just going back-to-back over the fence and putting a pair of runs on the board before the pitcher breaks a sweat.

The Dodgers aren’t exactly sacrificing power by moving Muncy (35 homers in 2019) down to the cleanup spot in this scenario. This is just a terrifying top-four gauntlet for L.A.’s opponents, no matter how Roberts arranges them.

3) Roberts stacks the middle

1. A.J. Pollock, LF (RHH)
2. Justin Turner, 3B (RHH)
3. Mookie Betts, RF (RHH)
4. Cody Bellinger, CF (LHH)
5. Max Muncy, 1B (LHH)
6. Will Smith, C (RHH)
7. Corey Seager, SS (LHH)
8. Gavin Lux, 2B (LHH)

Pollock’s debut season in Hollywood was largely forgettable. But when he’s right, that’s another super-athletic basestealing threat (career-high 39 swipes in 2015, 20 as recently as ’17), and a player also capable of launching a leadoff extra-base hit.

Should Pollock and Turner get on, the pitcher looks toward the on-deck circle and sees a three-headed monster in Betts-Bellinger-Muncy that averaged 37 homers, 98 RBIs and a .544 slugging last year. The guess here is that Betts stays largely in the first or second slot, but the prospect of facing that heart of the order is downright terrifying.


In the end, it might not matter all that much what Roberts does. The NL’s best lineup added one of the sport’s best hitters, and it’s really that simple. For a Dodgers offense that never seemed to be out of a game last year, there’s potential now for endless fireworks in Chavez Ravine.