Jul 9, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts (50) dives into second base against the Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Overall in 2014, the Red Sox have been an exceedingly boring team to watch. In addition to their general offensive impotence (they rank 28th in baseball in runs scored), they have been one of the slowest teams in baseball (29th in MLB in stolen bases). Also, the team chemistry and loose play of the 2013 World Champions has all but vanished this season as the team has just been… sad to watch. However, particularly since A.J. Pierzynski‘s designation for assignment, it seems that there has been a culture change in the Red Sox’ clubhouse and it has affected their on-field play.
Red Sox management has opted to roll with a younger crop of talent, opening spots for several of the team’s top prospects, and it has certainly changed the way the Red Sox have played the game over the last handful of games. And no prospect seems to have influenced the Red Sox’ style of play more than Mookie Betts.
Mookie Betts opened his Red Sox career with a great deal of hype after incredible offensive showings throughout his Minor League tenure. And while Betts has not gotten off to a tremendous start from a statistical standpoint, slashing just .242/.286/.394 thus far, he has still made his presence felt through his high-energy, exhilarating brand of baseball.
Never more evident than on his infield double against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night, Betts has that rare ability to ignite and energize the entire team. He blends the traditional Red Sox’ style of plate discipline and on-base percentage with the blazing speed that has been absent from Red Sox lineups this season. And in addition to that already-impressive mix of talent, Betts also has lightning-quick wrists which translate to excellent bat speed and surprising power for a player who stands just 5’9″ and weighs roughly 155 pounds.
Don’t count on Betts putting the Red Sox on his back and bringing the team to the playoffs in 2014 and don’t expect him to win the Rookie of the Year or any other accolade. However, it’s not a stretch to say that Betts’ presence could easily make the entire team better. Whether it’s through his play (Betts slashed an incredible .345/.437/.520 with 8 home runs and 29 stolen bases before being called up) or through his energy and poise, Betts should continue to impact the Red Sox throughout the 2014 season and beyond.