Red Sox: Mookie Betts struggling on the road


Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts is having another great season, but his home/road splits may be a cause for concern.

It seems that just about everyone in the Boston Red Sox lineup has been teeing off on opposing pitchers when they come to visit Fenway Park, where the team is averaging a ridiculous 6.7 runs per game.

Mookie Betts has been no exception, hitting a robust .314 with a .920 OPS at home this season. With the support of a raucous fan base on his side, Betts is playing like the superstar we expect him to be blossoming into. Take him outside of the cozy confines of Fenway and we find a much different outlook.

It’s a small sample of only 19 road games this season, but the results are troublesome nonetheless. Betts is hitting a meager .229/.289/.386 on the road this season while striking out in 19.3 percent of his at-bats, compared to 14.4 percent at home.

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Was a slow start to blame? Some hitters take time for their bats to heat up, especially when forced to play April games in cold or inclement weather. The Red Sox opened the season with five games on the road, a trip Betts returned from with only three total hits and a putrid .130 average. Except three of those games were played under a dome in Toronto, so can’t blame the weather there. Plus, the rest of the lineup had no difficulty putting up runs in those first two road series.

If we look at the more recent road trips this month, Betts hasn’t fared much better. His batting average is a moderately improved .205 over his last nine road games, which remains a far cry from what the Red Sox expect from their lead-off hitter.

Before we brush aside Betts’ road woes as a product of a small sample size, consider that significant home/road splits are nothing new for the budding your superstar. In 2015, Betts hit .322 with an .888 OPS at Fenway Park, compared to .262 with a .755 OPS on the road. That’s not a gap nearly as wide as what we’ve seen this season, but it’s still significant. This would suggest that we should see his road production gravitate toward the mediocrity of last season’s, while still falling well short of the numbers he puts up at home.

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It’s not uncommon for hitters to perform better at home, where they have a greater comfort level in that environment. This is particularly true for a team like the Red Sox that plays in a very hitter-friendly environment – especially for a right-handed hitter like Betts that can take advantage of the short distance to the wall in left field. There’s also something to be said about spending the night in your own bed instead of in a hotel. As luxurious as the accommodations must be for a Major League Baseball player, a hectic travel schedule can wear on a player over the course of a grueling season.

Betts isn’t the only one feeling the effects of hitting the road. While the other regulars in the lineup don’t have the massive split differentials that Betts does, the team is scoring fewer runs on the road at 4.6 per game. Not that this average is anything to scoff at – it’s about the same as what a Seattle Mariners team that ranks third in the league in runs scored has been averaging overall. Still, it’s almost two runs less than they average at Fenway. We can’t place that much of a difference squarely on Betts.

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It’s still early, so we can expect Betts to improve on the road as the season goes on. He’s too good of a hitter to be this bad in any environment. Just don’t expect him to produce anywhere near the level he does at home. Even with a dip in his road numbers, his overall stat line will still end up among the best in the league.