Boston Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts named 2018 AL MVP

BOSTON, MA - MAY 02: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on May 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 02: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on May 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts has won the American League Most Valuable Player Award for the first time in his career.

We’re running out of ways to recognize the greatness of Mookie Betts. The right fielder for the Boston Red Sox is a three-time All-Star. He’s won three Gold Gloves, a pair of Silver Slugger Awards, and he’s a World Series champion. Now Betts has earned the highest individual achievement in baseball.

Betts has been named the AL Most Valuable Player for the first time in his career. He received 28 first-place votes and two second-place votes. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout finished second on the ballot with one first-place vote. Betts’ teammate J.D. Martinez received the only other first-place vote but finished third behind Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez.

This marks the first time an AL player has won a World Series, MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in the same season.

We have seen Betts came close to winning the MVP once before, finishing as the runner-up behind Trout in 2016. Last year, in what was considered a down year for the young superstar at the plate, Betts still finished sixth on the ballot.

Betts won the AL batting title with a .346 average. He also finished first with a .640 SLG, .449 wOBA, and 84 extra-base hits while finishing second behind Trout with a .438 OPS, 1.078 OPS, and 185 wRC+.

As one of the game’s elite duel power-speed threats, Betts was one of only two major league players in the 30/30 club this year with 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases. He joins Jacoby Ellsbury as the only players to reach that milestone in a Red Sox uniform. The 32 homers Betts blasted this season are also the most in franchise history by a leadoff hitter.

Betts hit 40+ doubles, 5+ triples, and 30+ home runs for the second time in the last three seasons. 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.

As much of a game-changer as Betts can be at the plate, he may have an even greater impact on the defensive end where he is far and away the best right fielder in baseball. His 20 defensive runs saved and 14.7 UZR lead his position by a comfortable margin.

He compares favorably to any outfielder with those numbers. While center fielders are typically deemed more valuable, 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 and he even manned second base for a few innings, a position he hadn’t played since he was a rookie.

Betts is a five-tool player who can make an impression on the game in a variety of ways. His all-around value adds up to a major-league leading 10.9 WAR, per Baseball-Reference. FanGraphs also ranks Betts first with 10.4 fWAR, the seventh highest in franchise history. We’ve just seen the best overall performance by a Red Sox hitter since Carl Yastrzemski‘s Triple Crown season in 1967! The only other Red Sox position players to ever produce a higher single-season fWAR than Betts did this year are named Tris Speaker and Ted Williams. Not bad company.

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While he’s only played four full seasons in the majors, this has been a historically great start to Betts’ career. The 26-year old has been a star from since bursting onto the scene in 2014 and now he’s finally being recognized as the league’s best position player.