Mookie Betts is starting to grasp just how talented he is.
It’s been obvious to coaches, teammates and fans that the 23-year-old Boston Red Sox outfielder could be one of the best players in Major League Baseball if he remains on his current trajectory, but so far, Betts hasn’t seemed to have received the memo.
Until now, that is.
“I’m still learning who I am, what’s going to be my niche to stay,” Betts told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier this week. “But there’s definitely more of a sense of comfort now that I’ve been here for a little bit of time and understand how it works. You look at the best guys around the league, and you’re doing things similar to them — not the same but similar — it gives you some confidence that you can stick around, you can hang around and play with the best of them.
“That’s kind of how I view last year, and that’s my mindset going into this year. I can stick around and be one of the best of the best but within the team framework of doing things. I can help the team if I’m one of the best of the best in every aspect.”
Betts batted .291/.341/.479 in 2015 with 18 home runs, 77 RBIs and 21 stolen bases last season and also proved to be an above-average defender. He’s always striving to be better, and he’s constantly asking questions to veteran players to improve his game. And even though the rise almost seems inevitable at this point, some teammates believe Betts doesn’t quite understand that yet.
“The way he carries himself, the way he plays the game, he plays all-out, all the time,” catcher Blake Swihart told Speier. “That’s what you look for in a player like that. I think he understands what kind of player he is, he knows he can make an impact in a game. But he still doesn’t understand how good he is.”
Thumbnail photo via Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports Images