Why Mookie Betts Is Such a Vital Part of the Red Sox

At the young age of 24 Betts is a centerpiece of the Red Sox, both at the plate and in the outfield

Via: Wikimedia Commons

The fact that Mookie Betts hasn’t struck out once all season in over 40 plate appearances is flat out amazing. It just goes to show how great of hand eye coordination Betts has at the plate. In fact, the last time Betts struck out was last September against Oliver Drake, who now pitches for the Brewers.

He puts the ball in play. He gets on base. He works the count, fouls balls off, gets deep into at counts. You could say “Well, he’s swinging early in the count so that’s why he’s not striking out.” But that isn’t the case. Betts makes pitchers work and throw a lot of pitches in his at bats. In a day and age where so many pitchers in the big leagues throw 95 plus, it really goes to show just how good Mookie Betts is.

Sparkplug

The top of the Red Sox lineup is stacked with young talent. Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, and Mookie Betts.

Betts is off to a hot start this season, hitting well over .300 heading into a series against AL east rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1,498 at bats in the big leagues since 2014, Betts has only struck out 193 times. That’s only a 12 percent strikeout rate. For a guy who is such a great athlete, putting the ball in play is vital for Mookie. He gives himself a chance to beat out ground balls thanks to his speed, and it certainly puts pressure on opposing defenses when Betts is at the plate and on base because he is a threat to steal.

We’re in an era where guys in the big leagues hit a lot of home runs. But, they also strike out a lot. This is where it gets interesting. Last season, Mookie had a huge campaign, hitting .318, with 31 home runs. It’s not very often you see players with 30 plus bombs who also hit over .300 in a season. Yes, there’s a few, like Mike Trout, or Bryce Harper, but on the hole, it doesn’t happen. Mark Trumbo led the big leagues last season with 47 dingers. He only hit .256. That’s 52 points below Mookie’s average in 2016, yet he still hit 31 bombs. Mookie also stole 26 bags, and had 42 doubles. And guess how many times he struck out in 672 at bats? Only 80. He also has tremendous plate coverage, and doesn’t chase very many pitches out of the hitting zone. He is a patient hitter.

Betts has extremely quick hands. In fact, he uses his hands better than almost anyone I’ve seen in the big leagues. Regardless of where a ball is pitched, he always shows the ability to adjust and either bring his hands in and get the barrel to the ball, or go with a pitch on the outer half.

His offensive output has been huge for the Red Sox. But his defense, is another huge asset he brings to the table.

Betts plays center field as good as any. He has the athleticism and range to get to almost any ball hit in the gaps. Even if Betts does get a bad read on a ball, he can usually track it down because he has such great speed. Mookie compliments his talent in the outfield with an above average throwing arm, which makes opposing base runners timid to run on him.

One Vital Factor

I’m going to say this again, and I 100 percent believe this is what makes Mookie Betts the complete player.

His speed. When Betts can put up numbers like he did last year, and be able to impact the game both offensively and defensively because of his speed, it’s literally a nightmare for opposing teams.

Like I said earlier, the fact that Mookie Betts hasn’t struck out in almost 150 at bats is extremely impressive and goes to show just how special of a player the Red Sox outfielder is. But it goes deeper than that. Betts has the ability to impact the game in all categories, and that’s rare to see.

He’s a vital part of the Red Sox lineup, and they wouldn’t be the same team without him.

A Silver Slugger award, All-Star appearance, and Gold Glove award he received last year will definitely not be his last.

Mookie Betts is one of the most exciting players in the Major leagues, and will be for years to come.