Boston Red Sox Report Cards: Right fielder Mookie Betts

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: Mookie Betts
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: Mookie Betts /

The BoSox Injection crew grades the 2018 season for each member of the Boston Red Sox, beginning with right fielder Mookie Betts.

Mookie Betts has made the leap from being an All-Star to entering the conversation of the best player in baseball. The leadoff hitter for the Boston Red Sox would end up leading the league in several categories this season to establish himself as the frontrunner for the AL MVP award.

Betts won the American League 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 a 1.078 OPS.

Mookie joined Jose Ramirez as the only major league members of the 30/30 club this season with a career-high 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases. He and Jacoby Ellsbury (2011) are the only Red Sox players to achieve that milestone in the history of the franchise. The 32 home runs hit by Betts are the most in franchise history by a leadoff hitter.

The 26-year-old 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.

The two-time Gold Glove winner has been nominated for the award again this year, aiming to make it three consecutive seasons as the league’s top defensive right fielder. His 20 defensive runs saved and 14.7 UZR lead all players at the position by a comfortable margin.

Baseball-Reference (10.9 WAR) and FanGraphs (10.4 WAR) may differ slightly in their calculations but both agree that Betts led the majors in Wins Above Replacement.


We didn’t see the best of Betts this postseason, making it all the more impressive that the Red Sox cruised to a World Series title without their MVP leading the way.

More from Red Sox News

Betts hit .210 with a .623 OPS in 14 postseason games. Not what you’d expect from a player of his caliber but it wasn’t all bad. He was second on the team in runs scored with 13 and produced five extra-base hits.

The lowlight of his postseason saw Betts go 0-for-7 during the 18-inning marathon in Game 3 of the World Series. There were more 0-for’s than we’d like to see from him but Betts did have three multi-hit games.

A pair of doubles and two runs scored in Game 2 of the ALCS helped even the series with the Houston Astros. He also provided three hits in Game 2 of the World Series. Betts only provided one hit in the decisive Game 5 against the Los Angeles Dodgers but he made it count with his first career postseason home run.


Mookie Betts. A+. . Right Field.

We can’t give a high enough grade to one of the best all-around performances we’ve seen from a Red Sox position player since Carl Yastrzemski‘s Triple Crown season in 1967.

His postseason struggles may have been held more against him if it had been more costly for the Red Sox. Boston went 11-3 in the playoffs while cruising to a championship so they really didn’t need a monster postseason from Betts. He still made some contributions and provided his usual excellent defense.

Betts should and most likely will be the MVP, making this grade well earned.

Looking ahead to 2019

Betts enters his second year of arbitration and won’t hit free agency until 2021. He won his arbitration case against the Red Sox this year and was awarded a $10.5 million salary that fell just shy of the record for a first-year arbitration player.

Assuming the Red Sox can’t reach a long-term extension with their young superstar, expect Betts to shatter arbitration records this winter. Winning an MVP would only be the icing on top of his case. While this would seem to give the front office incentive to lock him up, keep in mind that this is exactly why Betts may see the arbitration process as his best option to maximize his earnings. Betts seems willing to bet on himself.

dark. Next. State of the Red Sox in 2019

Either way, Betts isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s a foundational piece of this young core and will be back in 2019 to help the Red Sox defend their championship.