Boston Red Sox: Mookie Betts in good company as MVP runner-up
By Sean Penney
Nomar Garciaparra followed his outstanding Rookie of the Year season by finishing second in the MVP race in 1998. The Red Sox star shortstop hit .323 and set what would be career-highs with 35 home runs and 122 RBI. Those numbers are similar to what Betts put up this year in what was also his second full season in the league, so there are some interesting parallels between the two.
Despite a career year, Nomar fell short to Juan Gonzalez of the Texas Rangers. Juan-Gon smashed 45 homers, 50 doubles and drove in a league-leading 157 RBI.
The power numbers were impressive, even by the standards of that tainted era, but Garciaparra still had the better overall season. He posted a 7.1 WAR that season, while the one-dimensional Gonzalez trailed at 4.9 WAR. It makes you wonder if the results would have been reversed if they played in today’s more analytics driven environment.
Nomar would follow that season with a pair of batting titles and four more All-Star appearances during his time in Boston. He was dealt to the Chicago Cubs in 2004 and was never really the same after that, as injuries curtailed a once promising career.