He’s hit 305/390/460 in 123 plate appearances since the beginning of August. While Betts does have more strikeouts than walks or extra-base hits, it’s a close call (17 to 14 to 10). His line drive rate started around 15 percent and has jumped well over 20 percent. He started out with too many ground balls (about half of his batted balls) and has dropped that to a much better 40 percent.
Before I got to watch Betts hit, I had him pegged as a new Dustin Pedroia, a little guy with more power than you’d think. But getting to watch him regularly, Betts isn’t the special snowflake that Pedroia is. Which I think is a good thing. I found a bunch of good clips of Betts putting a hurt on the ball, but I think this is my favorite. It’s just a line drive single to right-center from two weeks ago, but it stands up on re-watch like the first season of Homicide.
Try to follow his hands from set position to getting through the ball. He lets the pitch get insanely deep, then releases a swing that seems to bend time between the moment it begins and the bat going through the hitting zone. Pedroia manages to hit for power, despite his slight frame, by swinging from the heels and counting on his otherworldly hand-eye coordination to allow him to get away with it. For Betts, his hands are so quick that he must be generating elite bat speed with a short, quick swing. It’s a very traditional way to combine contact hitting and power, which is good for projectibility. Betts is doing something that many stars have done before and many will in the future. I’m more confident than ever that Betts is a multiple All-Star in the making, and I look forward to watching him for another couple weeks.