Okay, so that may have been an exaggeration, but it’s time we talk about how great Mookie Betts has been this season so far. He may have had a down year last year, when he hit only .264/.344/.459 and a 108 OPS+, but Mookie is back to being the guy who finished 2nd in MVP voting in 2016. Many people (including myself) believe he should’ve won the award that year instead of Mike Trout. This season, Mookie’s walk rate is at a career high 12.6% compared to his 10.8% previous career high from a season ago. His strikeout percentage is about in line with his career norms at 11.6% this season and 11.8% for his career. So far on the season his overall numbers are just ridiculous, slashing .350/.442/.750 with a 214 OPS+, 8 two baggers, 8 home runs, and 17 runs driven in. He leads the league in runs scored with 25. Is this sustainable production? Most likely not, as his ISO is a sky high .400 on the season, but his BABIP is surprisingly in line with his career .303 mark, coming in at .323 this year. That .323 clip is actually only one point higher than his BABIP from 2015, his MVP runner up year, so it’s not out of the question for him to sustain that number. Below is his career BABIP against the league average number:
As you probably noticed, in his down season last year he was plagued by a much-below league average BABIP, most likely the reason he only hit .264. Now he’s back to his 2014-2016 ways, which is great news for the Red Sox. Mookie has also been hitting the ball hard an incredible 50% of the time, compared to the league average of 34%.
Putting the advanced numbers aside, Mookie is also arguably the best defensive player in baseball at any position, but definitely in the outfield. He’s already won two Gold Glove Awards and one Platinum Glove, and has even finished top-5 in Outs Above Average each of the past two seasons, so he’s backed up by the defensive metrics. Combine that with great offensive numbers and the fact that he’s stolen at least 20 bases with a 78% success rate in each of the past three seasons, and you get one of the best players in baseball. Aside from that, he’s also tied a guy by the name of Theodore Samuel Williams for most career 3-home run games by a Red Sox player, and he’s only 25 years old. Mookie is arguably the most important player on this Red Sox roster. Is Mookie Betts the best player in baseball? A case can certainly be made. I still say it’s Mike Trout until he proves that he isn’t but Mookie has to be in the Top 3 current players. As a Red Sox fan, I’ll take a Top 3 player any day of the week.