After an excellent first half, Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts should be considered the front-runner for the American League MVP award.
With the All-Star Game in the past and regular season games starting back up tonight, first half awards have been a hot topic. Prominent names for AL MVP have been Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox and José Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians, among others.
Out of all of these players, Betts has the best case for the award and should be considered the front-runner going forward.
Depending on which site is used to measure WAR, Betts, Trout and Ramirez are neck-and-neck. According to FanGraphs, all three are tied at exactly 6.5 wins above replacement. So a deeper look needs to be taken to determine the overall value of these players.
When looking at their offensive ranks among all AL players, Betts is either leading or high on the list for every stat. He leads the league in average (.359), slugging (.691), OPS (1.139), isolated power (.332), weighted runs created (202) and weighted on-base average (.471).
Betts is also among the league leaders in runs scored (2nd), steals (4th), total bases (5th), extra base hits (5th), homeruns (7th), hits (9th), walks (9th), triples (10th) and doubles (13th).
Add to all of this his exceptional work in right field, and Betts is about half a step ahead of his competition when it comes to MVP.
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Now, his detractors will point to two different things when trying to make a case against him. The time that he missed in May and June, plus the fact that he is playing for the team with the best record in baseball.
When Betts missed time from May 27 to June 10, the Red Sox went 8-6 in his absence. Overall, the team is 12-8 (.600) when Betts is out of the lineup, as opposed to 56-22 (.718) when he is in the lineup.
It also shows the true reach of Betts’ talents when he is still that high up on the leaderboards while having missed that chunk of time. Besides, the MVP award isn’t a measure of who has the highest stats. That is what the Triple Crown and Silver Slugger are for.
The MVP tries to gauge who has the most value to their respective team. If you take Trout off the Angels, their playoff chances wouldn’t slip by much. They would still be a middle of the pack team in the American League.
Taking Ramirez away from the Indians would do more damage than the Angels losing Trout would. He is a key contributor on the first place team with the lowest winning percentage in the American league. But this is a team whose weakness has been pitching, and they addressed that yesterday.
But take Betts away from the Red Sox for an extended period of time and the team would all of a sudden be worrying about the effect it would have on the lineup as a whole.
Having Betts in the lineup significantly improves the team as a whole and gives them a better chance to win.