Boston Red Sox: Mookie Betts first to reach 200 hits in 2016
Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts became the first player to reach 200 hits this season, joining exclusive company in the history of the franchise.
The MVP candidacy for Mookie Betts continues to grow stronger by the day. The burgeoning superstar outfielder for the Boston Red Sox can now add a 200-hit season to the list of milestones he continues to pile up.
Betts became the first hitter in Major League Baseball to reach 200 hits this season, following a three-hit performance in a win over the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday night. Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, the current leader in the batting title race, would reach the 200 mark later that night, but Betts still remains on top with a major league-leading 201.
This achievement puts Betts in rare territory in the storied history of the franchise. He is only the 14th member of the Red Sox to record a 200 hit season and joins Johnny Pesky as the only hitter in franchise history to do it before the age of 24.
Most players that reach 200 hits are scrappy hitters that slap singles around the field, but Betts boasts plenty of extra-base power. His 40 doubles trails only teammate David Ortiz the American League and he’s added 31 home runs.
How rare is that? The only Red Sox hitters to log 200+ hits and 30+ home runs in a season are Jim Rice (1977-1979), Mo Vaughn (1996, 1998), Nomar Garciaparra (1997) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2011). Of that group, only Nomar and Ellsbury also added at least 40 doubles that season.
"“You don’t see too many guys around the league achieve that or accomplish that inside of a year,” manager John Farrell responded when asked by reporters about the milestone. “When you look at the power, the average, the total number of hits, he’s a five-tool player that is playing to those skills. We’re glad he’s ours, certainly, but how often can you take a four-hole hitter and put him in the leadoff spot and he responds with three singles and makes some things happen? He’s a hell of a player.”"
The manager summed it up pretty well. It’s not just the number of hits, but everything Betts does to contribute. This is what makes him such a special player, one who has managed to do things that few have accomplished.
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Betts is the first player to tally 200 hits, 100 runs scored and 100 RBI in a season since Miguel Cabrera‘s Triple Crown season in 2012. Those numbers helped Cabrera take home the MVP trophy that season, now they could do the same for Betts.
The numbers that Betts has put up this season are astounding. He’s the only hitter in baseball batting over .300 with 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 100 runs scored. He’s tied for third in the AL with 76 extra-base hits and 10th with a .900 OPS. He has also swiped 24 bases, putting him in position to potentially join the rare 30/30 club this season.
Oh, and that’s only half the story. He’s also a Gold Glove caliber outfielder, one capable of handling center field duties but routinely tasked with manning the quirky corners of Fenway Park’s right field. His all-around contributions are why he’s second in the majors with an 8.9 WAR, trailing only Mike Trout, who plays for a Los Angeles Angeles team far enough outside of the playoff hunt to put a significant dent in his own MVP candidacy.
At the age of 23, Betts is putting up prolific numbers that some of the greatest players to ever play the game could only dream about compiling at that age.
"“Means I put in a lot of work,” said Betts, while reflecting on this season’s accomplishments. “It’s been a long season and I’ll give myself a little credit for just working and grinding through the whole thing. I do know there is more to go.”"
There are still 11 games remaining in the regular season, leaving time for Betts to add more milestones before it’s over, but that’s not what he means when he says there is more to go. He’s thinking of October, with the Red Sox on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. Betts has never had the opportunity to showcase his talents on the postseason stage, but that is almost certain to change this year.
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200 hits in the regular season is great, but what Betts really wants is a chance to hit in the playoffs.