Mookie Betts became only the second leadoff hitter in Boston Red Sox history to hit 30 home runs in a season, burying the Yankees with his latest blast.
The three-run blast came with two outs in the eighth inning against Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees closer tried go inside with a slider that Betts was able to turn on, pulling it down the left field line to extend Boston’s lead to 11-5.
Betts is one of only two current Red Sox players, along with Rafael Devers, who can claim to have taken Chapman deep.
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Betts is still one shy of his career-high that he set in 2016. The difference is that former manager John Farrell pushed Betts to the middle of the order in the second half of that season. Only 23 of his 31 home runs that year came out of the leadoff spot.
Alex Cora has kept Mookie almost exclusively at the top of the order. Betts has tallied only six at-bats this year outside of the leadoff spot, collecting a pair of singles in his limited time in any other spot in the order.
This marks the second time in his career that Betts has reached 30 home runs, 40 doubles and five triples. The only other Red Sox player to do that twice was Ted Williams (1939 and 1947). Not bad company!
A four-hit performance raised Betts’ average to a league-leading .339 to give him a comfortable lead over J.D. Martinez (.331) in the batting title race. 30 homers ties Betts for 10th in the league and he’s second with a 1.057 OPS. He’s also second among leadoff hitters with 76 RBI.
Betts is two stolen bases shy of joining Jose Ramirez as the only 30/30 players in the majors. His 28 steals are already a career-high.
Average, power, speed, defense. He plays for the team with the best record in baseball and now he’s matching franchise records that put him in the same conversation with guys like Nomar and Teddy Ballgame. It’s getting harder to find reasons why Betts shouldn’t be the MVP.