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The 2018 Boston Red Sox were arguably the most successful team in franchise history. They won 108 regular season games despite not really trying for the final month of the season and cruised to a World Series Championship with an 11-3 postseason record. Of course, all of this could not have been done without their MVP right fielder Mookie Betts. Betts, the presumptive MVP, had a season to remember in 2018 and should bring the same caliber of play to the team in 2019.
Seriously, everything Mookie Betts did in 2018 was amazing. By just about every statistical measurement possible, Mookie Betts was one of the best players in baseball. Betts led the league in fWAR (10.4), slugging percentage (.640), and batting average (.346) while finishing second in wRC+ (185) and on-base percentage (.438). He struck out just 14.8% of the time and walked 13.2% of the time.
Mookie was much more than just an offensive wonder. Betts was one of the best baserunners in all of baseball, finishing with 30 stolen bases, tied for eighth-best in the league. For those into advanced baserunning stats, Betts finished the season with a 6.9 BsR, which was also eighth-best in the league.
Additionally, Betts’ defense was second to none. Betts boasts elite range, great vision, and a fantastic arm which combines to make him the prototypical right fielder. Betts took home yet another Gold Glove and had the best UZR/150 in the league (21.1). Outside of maybe Mike Trout, there isn’t a more complete player in the majors today.
Seriously, this guy could do no wrong. There’s no clear weakness or hole in Betts’ game. This is the closest thing there is to a perfect baseball player, and the Red Sox have him for at least two more seasons. For most players, this section would be longer, however, there’s really nothing to write about here.
Mookie Betts will remain one of the best players in baseball, but asking him to repeat his 2018 heroics might be asking too much. Quite frankly, nobody can play THAT good for multiple seasons. He’ll still be a top-five player in baseball, but he might not win MVP for a second straight year.
Betts finished 2018 with an unsustainably-high .368 BABIP, while his career number sits at .315. Mookie’s overall numbers will naturally go down as his BABIP regresses to the mean. He may make the same type of contact, but some of those hard-hit balls might start finding gloves instead of the open field.
That said, his BABIP may not drop back down into the .315 range. Part of the reason Betts got so lucky with balls in play is that he was making the best contact of his career. His 33.9% ground ball rate was the lowest of his career, and the 44.9% fly ball rate was the best. Additionally, Betts made hard contact 44.5% of the time and soft contact just 12.2% of the time, all career-bests.
Betts’ floor is a top-five player leaguewide, but if he can continue to make hard contact in the air, then he’ll continue to fight for the MVP award. Just like last year, Betts is set to be the best player on one of the best teams in all of baseball.