Five Reasons Why Red Sox Mookie Betts Is An All-Star

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May 27, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) celebrates his home run with center fielder Mookie Betts (50) in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

#4 – The Eye of a Veteran

Well, as defense is only one part of the game of baseball, we should probably still look at the other parts of Betts’ game. A keen eye can tell the strides that Betts has made between the 52 games that he played in 2014 and the 80 games that he’s played in 2015. Much of it has to do with how he has approached the plate and the bases: ruthless aggression in a timely fashion.

A veteran knows when to punish a pitcher and when to take what is given. Last season, Betts walked 21 times and had 31 strikeouts for a .291 batting average. This season, he already has 25 walks, putting him second only to MLB’s golden child Mike Trout for all A.L. center fielders. Betts currently has a .282 batting average and 39 strikeouts, which would, on the surface, seem like he’s regressed. On the contrary, it shows how fast that he’s learning.

It’s very typical for breakout stars to do worse in their sophomore year. The pitchers now have a scouting report on the young hitter’s tendencies, hot-spots, and weak points. They know which pitch the batter loves to hit and which one he prays to the baseball gods to guide his bat to hit.

In April, Betts only hit .230, stumbling out of the gate. In May, he hit .259. In June, he hit .330. And so far in July, he’s hit .421. Picking up on the heat here? Betts was warming up to the sophomore slump, taking it in, re-evaluating his game, figuring out what the pitchers want to do to him and strategizing his own plan of attack. Sounds much like a wily veteran, doesn’t it?

In the last 30 games, no center fielder in the A.L. is as hot as Betts, hitting .366 with four home runs, 16 RBIs, and five stolen bases. He has been fierce, but it’s only after his keen eye developed that he has maximized his talented potential.