There’s no shortage of talent on the Red Sox, and it should come as no surprise that Boston’s roster is well thought of across baseball.
ESPN’s Buster Olney posted his latest in an ongoing series ranking the best players at each position in Major League Baseball, polling “evaluators” and players throughout the game for their opinion.
It might be a slight surprise to some that Boston’s Mookie Betts topped the list of right fielders, ahead of even former National League MVP Bryce Harper.
“Quite simply,” Olney wrote, “Betts excels at everything.”
While the Betts-Harper debate has merits no matter which side you fall, there’s no debating Betts’ ascension to the top of baseball. Quite simply, he’s one of the best players in the sport, contributing in all three facets of the game from a position-player standpoint — batting, fielding and base running.
Betts also receives plenty of love in the advanced metrics department. His wRC+ of 135 ranked 17th in baseball last season, trailing just J.D. Martinez and Nelson Cruz among right fielders and a good 25 points ahead of Harper. Betts’ 7.8 WAR (Fangraphs) finished a whole 1.8 WAR ahead of the second-best player (Adam Eaton) and more than doubled Harper’s mark of 3.5.
While Harper ultimately might have the better long-term career — it’s hard to imagine another rough season like the Washington Nationals star had in 2016 — Betts is on top for now, at least.
Betts is the only Red Sox player to top one of Olney’s list, but center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., in perhaps another surprise, finished No. 2 at his position behind only Mike Trout, the consensus best player in the game.
“The Top 10 lists solicited from evaluators reflected the increasing emphasis on defense in Major League Baseball, as elite glove men like Kevin Kiermaier, Ender Inciarte and Bradley Jr. were mentioned on all ballots despite some questions about their offense,” Olney wrote in his blurb about Bradley.
Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox fared.
2B Dustin Pedroia — fifth
SS Xander Bogaerts — fifth
LF Andrew Benintendi — 10th
SP Chris Sale — fourth
SP David Price — honorable mention
SP Rick Porcello — honorable mention
RP Craig Kimbrel — honorable mention