Five Reasons Why Red Sox Mookie Betts Is An All-Star
Apr 13, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts (50) is safe at second base then steals third base against the Washington Nationals in the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
#3 – The Power of Youth
Speaking of potential, Betts has also kept his explosiveness, instead of just doing the safe play.
It’s sometimes hard to remember that young Mookie is only 22 years old when he drives the ball as hard and as well as he does. Betts is third for all starting center fielders with a .461 slugging percentage, with only Trout (.579) and Lorenzo Cain (.467) ahead of him.
To put those numbers into perspective, Betts is actually slugging the ball harder than last season (.444), when the pitchers didn’t know what to do with him. He’s driving the ball more squarely on every hit than when he was trying desperately to make an impact and pound every pitch. Betts’ restraint has actually made his power increase, and his muscles are still at a stage where he has growing to do. Maybe he won’t look to have a muscle-bound body like Trout, but maybe he doesn’t even need it.
Betts’ 5-foot-9, 180-pound frame has also been quick on the base paths. The joy that he brings to his own pitchers on defense is almost matched by the anguish he inflicts on opposing pitchers when he arrives on first base. A recent example would be last Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Betts arrived at first base in the first inning and wanted to take a look at rookie lefty pitcher Matt Boyd and his pick-off move. Betts moved so far off of first base, before even taking a secondary lead, he was off of the dirt and was standing on the green turf. Boyd threw to first a few times, each beaten by Betts returning with ease. So easy, in fact, that only the first time did Betts dive back to first, while the other times he came back standing up. It rattled Boyd a great deal. It may not have been the only reason, but Betts and the Red Sox witnessed Boyd allow seven runs without recording a single out in that inning.
Betts has 13 stolen bases, placing him fifth behind Billy Burns with 17. Cain (16), Rajai Davis (14), and the man Betts replaced in Boston Jacoby Ellsbury (14) round out the list. Those are some fast guys, but you will notice that many of them don’t appear in the other categories of the game. Some guys are built for speed, some guys are built for power, but Betts has both.
And the scary thing is that he’s still younger than all of these guys. Most of the other players are at the old side of 20 and even the young side of 30. Trout is 23 years old, putting him the closest to Mookie. The youth movement is here, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s explosive at the plate and on the bases.