Red Sox Mookie Betts In Beast Mode For September

Aug 25, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a sacrifice RBI during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 25, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits a sacrifice RBI during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts couldn’t be much hotter. The Tennessee native’s lashing out hits, punishing opposing pitchers to postseason glory.

Last night, it would have been foolish to bet against Betts. He went 5-for-5 against the Kansas City Royals, earning two RBIs for his efforts. Each time Betts picks up the bat lately, he’s made the baseball world remember that the Royal Rooters was and always will be a term used to describe Boston’s fans cheering.

Put aside the fact that the Red Sox actually lost the game for a minute. The top four hitters in the lineup went 13-for-19. The change that looks like absolute genius is Betts being moved to the fourth spot, allowing for Dustin Pedroia to be the leadoff hitter. Pedroia went 4-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. Xander Bogaerts moved from third to the second spot, relieving a bit of the pressure on him to produce RBIs. He went 3-for-5, helping to build his confidence from the .215 that he’s hit in August.

If the Red Sox would have had a bit more luck in scoring situations, they would have cashed in 12 more runs. Instead, David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, in the third and fifth spots in the lineup, went a combined 2-for-9 with no RBIs between them. The team went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left those 12 on base, while the Royals scored five runs in the first inning against a rusty Steven Wright. He settled down to pitch six full innings, but the damage had already been done for a 6-3 loss and dropping the Red Sox to a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East division.

Should that make the rooters from Red Sox Nation cry themselves to sleep? Suck it up, Buttercup!

Boston has the horses in the lineup to pull the wagon to the playoffs, whether as division winner or as a wildcard spot. The thoroughbred himself, Betts is giving an especially strong run of hope. At only 23 years of age, the righty bat is hitting .320/.360/.557 with 34 doubles, five triples, an astonishing 28 home runs, and 93 RBIs. Not bad for his 5-foot-9, 180-pound frame, which has more room to grow into his prime potential.

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Most of these numbers, amazingly, come from him playing the leadoff role. Now, manager John Farrell has been given the option to experiment with Betts in the cleanup role. In an interview with

BoSox Injection

, two days ago, ESPN baseball analyst Aaron Boone commented on the move for Betts: “I like it. Just because Mookie has become such a great offensive player. Even through the extra-base hit standpoint. This has been the overwhelming strength of the Red Sox team is to have the luxury of running out four guys like Pedroia, Bogaerts, Ortiz, Mookie Betts, all hitting over .300 as outstanding hitters.”

Betts’ hot bat has been stoking the fires for Boston all through the summer. In July, Betts hit .368. In August, he was making the dog days of summer worse for opposing pitchers, hitting .390 with an on-base percentage of .421 and punishing the pitches with a .660 slugging percentage. In 10 games as the cleanup hitter, Betts has hit .400 with two homers and eight RBIs. He’s even had three stolen bases in that stretch, making himself a very dangerous offensive player. Being sandwiched between Ortiz and Ramirez has forced pitchers to pitch to at least one or two of them, giving more opportunities for hits to be made on pitchers’ mistakes. is projecting Betts will hit .301/.356/.493 with five homers and 19 RBIs for the rest of the season. That’s including nine more doubles. Betts would have to stumble to get to those averages, which says a great deal about his season. Major League Baseball’s own experts believe that those numbers, which seem like a worst-case scenario at this point, will be above what only 12 players in the A.L. are currently accomplishing. Betts is just behind Jose Altuve for the league-lead in batting average (.358).

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If that’s the worst-case scenario, one can argue that Betts may be wearing the A.L. MVP crown now, before the season has even ended. He’s, at least, in the conversation, having more home runs and RBIs than Altuve and just two homers and seven RBIs behind Ortiz, all while only being made the cleanup hitter in recent weeks. As long as Betts keeps the fire burning, he’s going to blaze a flaming trail of greatness all the way to the postseason for the Red Sox. Hopefully for Boston, their pitching staff can see the fire as a landing pad being lit up for them to arrive safely.