BOSTON — Mookie Betts’ power has been on full display this season, and Sunday afternoon’s game at Fenway Park was among the best examples.
The 23-year-old Boston Red Sox outfielder belted three home runs — a two-run shot in the first inning and three-run blasts in the second and fifth innings — bringing his season total to 26. He’s now tied with David Ortiz for the team lead.
Betts’ offense — he finished 4 for 6 with eight RBI — set the tone for the Red Sox in a comfortable 16-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“It’s pretty spectacular when you see the first couple of innings, it’s the third time this year he’s had home runs in the first couple innings of a ballgame,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “The second time he’s hit three home runs in a game. Just electric bat speed, and against a very good pitcher in (Zack) Greinke. One hell of a day for Mookie.”
It’s becoming harder to argue that Betts isn’t one of the top 10 all-around players in the game. If he isn’t yet, he will be soon. He’s batting .313 with 26 HR, 84 RBI and 18 steals this season, and his defense also is elite.
Here are Betts’ season projections right now:
36 home runs
The stat line above should be good enough for Betts to receive serious consideration for the American League MVP award, especially if the Red Sox make the playoffs.
In the AL, Betts ranks second in runs with 91, second in hits with 154, second in doubles with 34, tied for 14th in home runs with 26 (seven less than the leader, though), tied for seventh in RBI with 84, 12th in batting average at .313, 17th in OPS at .914 and fourth in WAR at 5.6.
In addition to his impressive stats, Betts also has played in 113 of Boston’s 116 games. Few players make the impact Betts does on such a consistent basis.
The two players who’ll likely battle Betts for AL MVP honors are Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, but it’s quite possible neither of their teams will make the playoffs, and there has been only one AL MVP from a non-playoff team since 2003.
While being in the MVP discussion is nice, it’s not the main goal for Betts or the Red Sox. They want to end this special season — David Ortiz’s last in the major leagues — with a World Series title.
“We play the game to win a World Series,” Betts said. “I’m just trying to do that. All the other stuff can come and go or whatever, but my main focus right now is just to make the playoffs and win a World Series.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images