Tha Sports Junkies 101

Betts of the Best?



Mookie Betts is putting himself in the discussion as the best player in baseball today.

If someone asked you who the best player in baseball was before this season, Mike Trout would immediately come to mind.  Some people might argue that Bryce Harper is better, coming off of his legendary 2015 MVP season.  Those who value pitching to a greater degree would answer that Clayton Kershaw is the best player in the sport.  All of those players would be very logical choices.  With the end of the 2016 campaign in sight, Mookie Betts needs to be in the conversation as the best player in baseball.

Last season, Mookie Betts proved that he was a very good player.  In his first full season in the big leagues, Betts batted .291 with 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases for the Boston Red Sox.  According to BaseballReference.comhe was worth 1.4 wins above replacement on defense alone.  Betts quietly established himself as one of the premier all-around players in baseball, but he did not receive a lot of recognition for it.  Boston finished six games under .500 in 2015, and therefore they didn’t garner much national attention.  

Entering this year, many baseball fans began to believe in the hype surrounding Betts.  Perhaps a lot of that hype was a result of comments that Red Sox‘ designated hitter David Ortiz made during spring training.  Ortiz told ESPN’s Buster Olney that ““He’s [Betts] going to be one of the best players in the American League”.  Ortiz also stated that he feels that Betts is going to become a $250 million dollar player someday.  Coming from such a great player like Ortiz, those words had to motivate Betts to prove his retiring teammate right.

Betts has not failed to meet the sky-high expectations in 2016.  As a 23 year-old, Betts was named to his first all-star team.  He has a batting average of .313, and he has already set a new career best in home runs with 26.  He ranks among the top five in the American League in hits, doubles, runs batted in, batting average, slugging percentage, stolen bases, and runs scored.  Betts hasn’t forgotten how to flash the leather either.  So far, his dWAR is at 1.5.  Betts has been leading the charge for the vicious Boston offense that also features the aforementioned Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr.  On Sunday afternoon, Mookie belted three home runs for the second time this season, which has put him in elite company.  Betts joined Hall of Famer Ted Williams as the only players in Red Sox history that have had two three-homer games in a single season.

With his huge year still far from over, Mookie Betts has a legitimate chance to knock Mike Trout off of the throne as the best player in Major League Baseball.  Trout has an outstanding track record of consistency over his career, but Betts is building a pretty tremendous resumè of his own.  In Trout’s age 23 season, he was the runner-up for the MVP Award.  Through 113 games, Trout had a .301 average with 33 home runs and 71 RBI’s.  Trout also had 10 stolen bases and a .599 slugging percentage.  Through 113 games in Betts’ age 23 season, the MVP candidate has a .313 average with 26 home runs and 84 runs batted in.  Betts has swiped 18 bases and his slugging percentage is .561.  By comparison, Trout and Betts are very close in ability, with each player having minor edges over the other in certain areas.

After his big game on Sunday, Mookie Betts is finally earning the national recognition that very few people gave him last year.  With all due respect to Jose Altuve, Mike Trout, and David Ortiz, Mookie Betts has a very good case as to why he should be the American League Most Valuable Player.  MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman thinks so, too:

While Heyman’s tweet is absolutely true, Betts needs to be in more conversations than that.  Mookie Betts is now apart of the modern baseball Pantheon.  He is in the same class as players like Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.  He is the cream of the crop.  Mookie Betts is the best of the best.