Markus Lynn Betts is the most valuable player in baseball this year, leading the majors with a 10.9 bWAR and 10.0 fWAR. According to FanGraph’s measurement of the statistic, Betts is tied for the 27th greatest season of the modern era.
Betts won his first batting title with a career-high .346 average. He also led the league with 129 runs scored, 84 extra-base hits, .640 SLG, and a .449 wOBA. Betts ranked second with 185 wRC+, .438 OBP, and 1.078 OPS.
With a career-high 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases, Betts joined Jose Ramirez as the only members of the 30/30 club this season. He joins Jacoby Ellsbury (2011) as the only Red Sox players to achieve that milestone. Betts’ home run total is also the most in franchise history by a leadoff hitter.
Betts was second in the league with 47 doubles. It’s the second time in his career that he’s hit 40+ doubles, 5+ triples, and 30+ home runs. The only other Red Sox hitter to do that twice was Ted Williams. Betts is also the only major league player with 40+ doubles and 20+ steals in four consecutive seasons.
Stolen bases aren’t the only factor that makes Betts an elite base runner. He was sixth in the league with 6.7 BsR this season.
The two-time Gold Glove winner is on his way to earning the award for the third consecutive season. His 20 defensive runs saved and 14.7 UZR lead all right fielders by a comfortable margin. He compares favorably to any outfielder with those numbers. While center field is typically deemed a more valuable position, these metrics don’t give Betts enough credit for navigating the notoriously difficult corners in right field at Fenway Park. Betts more than held his own in games he was asked to shift to center field. He even manned second base for a few innings, a position he hadn’t played since he was a rookie.
This is more than merely the best season in the majors this season. Betts has produced one of the greatest in franchise history. When we think about the best seasons by a Red Sox hitter it’s the peak years of Teddy Ballgame, Yaz in ’67, or Big Papi setting the franchise home run record. We can now put Betts in that conversation. It would be a crime for his historically productive season not to be honored with the MVP award.