With summer approaching, Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts is sure getting ready to turn up the heat against his opponents, especially with his bat.
Are there any more doubters out there? Raise your hand if you thought that Betts and the other ‘Beantown Babes’ were going to consistently struggle when they reached the big leagues. Stand up and be counted if you thought that Betts would never become an elite player. If you are one of those people, and can admit it, then how does that crow taste? Any good?
Yesterday’s game in Fenway Park against the Cleveland Indians showed just why Betts should be the topic of discussion when the All-Star ballots are counted later this season. Betts went 3-for-5, cranking two home runs over the Green Monster in left field. One was a solo shot while the other was a grand slam, earning him five RBIs.
His performance was just the latest in this baseball stud’s progression into elite status. After a slow start to this season, much like last season, Betts warmed up and hit .306 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs. In his last seven games, the Tennessee native has been red hot, hitting .414 with a .485 on-base percentage and a whopping .931 slugging percentage.
Much of the change in Betts’ success from the first month of the season has to do with his patience at the plate. In April, Betts struck out 22 times while walking only five times. This month, Betts has been more careful about the pitches he’s attempting to hit, striking out only 10 times while earning seven free passes to first base. He’s still got 10 days to increase those totals, but the trend seems to be in the right direction.
Speaking of taking the right path, Betts has also been a terror to opposing pitchers on the base paths as well. He has already stolen eight bases thus far, putting him on pace to steal 27 bases in 145 games, which is a better ratio than the 21 bases that he stole last season.
Between his bat and his well-documented, highlight-reel glove, Betts is definitely making a bid for another form of status by mid-summer: All-Star status.
Last year, both himself and fellow Red Sox prospect-turned-starter Xander Bogaerts were snubbed from making the All-Star roster. While it was great for Red Sox Nation to see utility player Brock Holt make it, and deservedly so, leaving Betts and Bogaerts off of the list seemed an error in judgement by the fans and the American League coaching staff, to say the least.
This season, both men are playing extremely well. While Bogaerts has been hot right out of the gate in April, Betts’ bid to make the All-Star roster has some serious steam brewing this month. If this trend continues, it would take a complete and utter sabotage of the voting system, the likes of which a democratic society has never seen before, for him not to be the obvious choice.
Of course, the fans vote for who they want to see, a popularity contest, in all honesty. However, if the American League coaching staff, which will be the same from Kansas City as it was last season, does not rectify Betts not making the roster by the end of the fan voting, then Boston is going to have genuine beef with their mid-west counterparts.