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Mookie Betts, the owner of a massive contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has cemented himself as one of the top players calling MLB home. He’s a former MVP, a six-time All-Star, and a two-time World Series champion who’s still just 30 years old.

But why did Betts decide to wear No. 50?

Why does Mookie Betts wear No. 50?

Mookie Betts debuted with the Boston Red Sox on June 29, 2014, and quickly began to establish himself in the big leagues. He made his first All-Star team in his third season before finishing second in the American League MVP race during the 2016 campaign. Two years later, he won AL MVP after leading the league in batting average, slugging percentage, and runs scored.

Then, he capped off his Red Sox career by winning the World Series at the end of that 2018 season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Betts in February 2020 and signed him to a 12-year contract extension paying him $365 million through the 2032 go-round. He’s continued to succeed on the other end of the country, winning another World Series title in 2020 and rising as high as second in the National League MVP voting that same season.

All the while, he’s worn No. 50.

For some players, a jersey number means a lot. In many cases, the player might have a specific reason for choosing their digits. When Betts was asked why he wore No. 50 upon joining the Dodgers, his reasoning was simple, but it didn’t fall into the camp.

“That’s why I keep No. 50: because no one wants it,” he explained. After all, the number doesn’t make the player, and Betts has helped make his particular number more popular through his own success even if there isn’t any notable backstory.

Has Mookie Betts had the most success wearing No. 50?

Per Baseball Reference, 595 players have worn No. 50 throughout MLB history. And while that might seem like a massive number, keep in mind that the history of the league extends all the way back to the 19th century. During the 2022 season, only six players appeared in a game while adorned with the five-oh: Betts, Rene Pinto, Lenyn Sosa, Francisco Alvarez, Travis Swaggerty, and Kyle Nelson.

But is Betts the best of the historical bunch?

Well, of those 595, none have managed to top his career WAR tally. At the start of the 2023 campaign, the standings went as follows:

  1. Mookie Betts: 56.2
  2. Jamie Moyer: 49.8
  3. Adam Wainwright: 47.0
  4. John Candelaria: 41.9
  5. Claude Osteen: 41.2
  6. Dave Concepcion: 40.1
  7. Jose Bautista: 36.7
  8. Dan Haren: 35.1
  9. Freddy Garcia: 34.2
  10. Chris Carpenter: 34.2

The other confounding variable? Betts, Moyer, and Wainwright are the only three on the above list who spent double-digit years in No. 50. The other seven names combined to wear the number for nine seasons and are more strongly associated with other digits.

In other words, yes, Betts is already the best wearer of the No. 50, even if his career still has plenty of unwritten chapters.

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