Right Field – Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts is the best five-tool player the Red Sox have had in my lifetime. He owns a career average over .300, has displayed 30+ home run power, can steal 30 bases and he’s the best defensive right fielder in the game today.
In his last four seasons with the Red Sox, Betts was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner while earning the Silver Slugger award at his position three times.
Betts was the runner-up for the MVP in 2006 when he hit .318 with 31 home runs and 26 steals. He followed with a “down” season when his average fell to .264 due to some fluky BABIP luck but still finished sixth on the MVP ballot because he was so great at everything else.
His fortune turned bright again in 2018 when Betts bounced back with a .346 average to capture the batting title. He also led the league with 129 runs scored and a .640 slugging percentage and joined the 30/30 club (32 homers, 30 steals) while providing his usual stellar defense to earn the MVP award.
The 10.4 fWAR that Betts produced in 2018 is the seventh-highest single-season mark in franchise history, according to FanGraphs. It took Betts less than six full seasons to compile 37.2 fWAR, which ranks 15th in franchise history. If he had stayed in Boston for another six-plus years while maintaining anywhere near that pace, Betts may have finished among the top trio of position players in franchise history behind only Ted and Yaz.
The Red Sox made every effort to lock their superstar up with an extension but Betts rebuffed every offer, insisting on testing free agency. Boston traded him last winter to the Dodgers rather than run the risk of losing him for nothing after the season. While some fans turned against Betts for being greedy, he’s simply doing what’s in his best interest. He’s earned that right and few among us would willingly settle for less money to do a job we knew we were great at.
I was devastated when Betts was traded away but he remains one of my all-time favorite players. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also the only active player I’ve had the privilege of interviewing.