Red Sox: Mookie Betts posts second consecutive 100 RBI season
By Sean Penney
24-year old outfielder Mookie Betts joined rare company in Boston Red Sox history with his second consecutive 100 RBI season.
A ground ball to second base to drive in a run on a fielders choice. It won’t fly off the page when you glace at the box score but that first inning RBI by Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts was a significant milestone.
Betts has now reached 100 RBI for the season, one year after setting a career-high with 113 in 2016. With that he joins Ted Williams as the only hitters in franchise history to record consecutive 100+ RBI seasons before the age of 25.
Red Sox fans will take note anytime a player accomplishes something that puts their name in the same conversation with the Splendid Splinter. Williams broke into the big leagues at 20 years old with a league-leading 145 RBI in 1939. He eclipsed the 100 RBI mark in each of his first four seasons, all while under the age of 25, before taking the next three years off to serve in the war.
Bobby Doerr (1940, 1942) and Jim Rice (1975, 1977) are the only other Red Sox hitters with multiple 100+ RBI seasons before turning 25 but neither did it in consecutive years. Six other hitters have accomplished it once in a Red Sox uniform at such a young age.
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Betts remains two shy of scoring 100 runs – a category he finished second in the majors in a year ago with 122. Odds are pretty good he’ll get there with six games remaining. Of the 16 times in franchise history where a hitter has reached 100+ RBI before turning 25 years old, only nine of those instances occurred in a season where they also scored 100+ runs. Williams accounts for four of those cases. Betts joined that elite group last year and if he does so again this year he’ll join Teddy Ballgame as the only Red Sox hitters to do it twice.
A fifth inning single by Betts drove in another run but he appeared to aggravate his wrist on the swing. While he initially stayed in the game, Betts was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. The silver lining to Betts exiting early is that Andrew Benintendi hit a solo homer in his spot to pull the Red Sox to within a run.
The Red Sox ultimately fell to the Blue Jays, dropping their lead over the Yankees in the AL East race to four games.
The perception is that Betts is having a poor season but that’s only due to the incredibly high bar he set at a young age. He’s still a top run producer and an elite defensive outfielder playing for a team heading for the postseason. Those traits should at least put Betts back in the MVP conversation.