Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts wins Gold Glove Award
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts has been rewarded with his second consecutive Gold Glove Award for his outstanding defensive performance.
Rawlings has revealed the winners of their 60th annual Gold Glove Awards presented to the top defensive player in each league at their respective positions. The Boston Red Sox will find one of their own on the list, as right fielder Mookie Betts has taken home the hardware.
This marks the second consecutive season that Betts has won the award, making him one of five American League recipients this year with multiple career Gold Glove Awards to display on their mantle.
Betts is the fourth Red Sox outfielder in franchise history to win multiple Gold Gloves, joining Dwight Evans (8), Carl Yastrzemski (7) and Fred Lynn (4).
The Red Sox had four players nominated as finalists at their positions, yet Betts was the only one to win. First baseman Mitch Moreland, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and pitcher Chris Sale all fell short, which wasn’t all that surprising.
Even less surprising was that Betts won, as he was arguably the most obvious choice at any position. The 25-year old was second in the majors at any position with 31 defensive runs saved, more than tripling the amount produced by any other AL right fielder. His 20.5 UZR was the best in the majors and more than double any AL right fielder. Betts also owned a 3.2 dWAR that was well ahead of anyone else who played the position this season.
The 366 putouts that Betts recorded were the most by a right fielder this year. He made outstanding plays seem almost routine, tracking down fly balls that most wouldn’t dare to attempt a play on.
Betts padded his putout total by making diving catches.
As well as by showing off his impressive vertical leap.
He’ll even break a hitter’s heart by robbing them of a home run.
Granted the above clip from the postseason doesn’t account for a regular season award, yet it goes to show the effect Betts can have with his glove. He saved an appreciative Joe Kelly from coughing up a three-run homer in the second inning of Game 3 of the ALDS. That would have given the Houston Astros a 6-0 lead that may have buried the Red Sox. While Boston still lost the series, at least they avoided the embarrassment of a sweep, in large part due to that catch by Betts.
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2017 was a bit of a down year for Betts, who was the runner-up in the MVP race a year ago. A baffling bout of bad luck with balls hit in play led to his batting average tumbling to a career-low .264 and his power numbers took a step back from last year’s breakout campaign.
Yet despite that regression at the plate, Betts remained among the most valuable players in the league. His 6.2 WAR ranked fifth in the league, a total which received a significant boost from his otherworldly defense.
A bounce-back year at the plate should be in store for Betts in 2018. His defense won’t be regressing anytime soon, so any improvement with his bat should launch him back into that MVP discussion.
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Given the Grand Canyon-sized gap between Betts and the rest of the right fielders in baseball, there’s little reason to believe that he’ll cede the Gold Glove Award to another in the near future. He’s won the award twice in his first three full seasons and remains a solid bet to pile up several more throughout his career.