There are so few Renaissance men anymore. Mookie Betts is a Ted Williams lite. While Ted is canonized as the best hitter of all time, the best fighter pilot of all time, and the best fly fisherman of all time, Mookie is an excellent pro bowler in the offseason, including more than one 300 game on the PBT. He’s also a nice guy, an undercover philanthropist, and he’s about to ply his MVP talent in Chavez Ravine. He’s a WAR hero with a high batting average, 30 home run pop, and scores runs in bunches. Other than shift from Fenway Park to Dodgers Stadium, what is there to know? Let’s take a look.

 

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How We Got Here

After being the 172 overall pick in 2011, Mookie got a cup of coffee in 2014, with his .291 batting average, .368 OBP, .812 OPS in 52 games hinting at his overall game. In the intervening years he has won the AL MVP once and finished twice once. He has led the league at different times in At Bats, Runs, Batting Average, Slugging and Total Bases. Since he became a full time starter in 2015 he has averaged 26.8 homers and 23.8 stolen bases per year. Because the Red Sox sold their soul to win the 2018 World Series, and paid too much for people like Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi, the Red Sox traded him to the Dodgers last week. Oh, and to get rid of David Price’s unique elbow.

The Good

Mookie Betts is 27 years old and in the prime of his career. He is going to a Dodgers lineup that includes NL MVP Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and probably young Gavin Lux soon. This is a lineup that has gone to the World Series multiple times, and Mookie will likely hit leadoff. That means at bats, and runs, so many runs. And thanks to one difference between Fenway and Dodgers Stadium, mainly a giant wall in left field, many of Mookie’s rockets to his favorite pull side have turned into singles or doubles. This creates the distinct possibility that young Mookie Betts will top his career high of 32 home runs this year. He has five three home run games in his career. That’s when the launch angle is perfect to his pull side, it’s a beautiful thing (as Eck would say). In Dodger Stadium he can launch line drives to the pull side for homers. Hitting three homers in a game is hard to do, but the chances are good he’ll have at least one of these games this year, if not more. Add to that his RBI opportunities from a lengthy lineup and you have a rare five category contributor.

The Caveat

There’s not necessarily a “bad” when it comes to Mookie Betts. It’s more of a caveat. He has spent his whole career trying to get to free agency. He turned down 10 years and $300 Million and asked for 12 and $420 Million two years ago. He’s extremely serious about hitting the free agent market. This is his free agent year. One of the reasons the Red Sox were one and done in the playoffs in 2016 and 2017 was the performance of Mookie in the post season. He also was not the reason the Red Sox won in 2018. His postseason stats are a .227 batting average, .654 OPS with one home run in 88 at bats. Brock Holt has better postseason stats. It’s a small sample, but an indication that when the pressure is on pitchers exploit Mookie’s pull happy ways and shut him down. There is a chance that he will squeeze the bat and have a bad year. There is an enormous amount of pressure he’s put on himself to get to this point.

The only other negative is that pop flies to left in Fenway scrape the Green Monster for hits instead of outs. Dodger Stadium is slightly negative for batting average vs Fenway. It’s unlikely that Mookie hits .300 this year. But a career high in homers can cover 10 points off a batting average any day.

Bid

Despite the caveat, if you have the chance to grab Mookie go for it. In fact, he’s probably the best bet in fantasy this side of Mike Trout. We have a lot of compassion for those who’ve ridden Mookie to multiple championships in AL keeper leagues. Imagining the righty lefty of Betts and Bellinger in the Dodgers lineup is about the most potent possibility since the heyday of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.

 
  1. 183414 says:
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    Ted Williams ? Snubbed the White House, while the rest of the team went, other than malcontent Price; and he’s a good bowler ? $300 mil. not good enough. Wanted Mike Trout money. Bulletin: He’s not Mike Trout. Good guy because he gives to charity ? No clue, since I’ve never met him.
    He may hit 32 h.r.’s and score 150 runs, but still seems like a stretch and I would expect h.r.’s to go down, along with his b.avg.
    Having said all that, I’d much prefer him on the Yankees than Stanton, but $420 million, seems like money is his #1 goal.

  2. Jonathan says:
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    I’m born and raised in Boston all my life (40 years), and even I can admit Mookie so overated! He’s not even top 5 player. How you have him over Acuna, Yelich, hell even his own teammate Bellinger better player. Arenado, Bregman, Story, Lindor, even Soto better than Mook. He had 1 banner year and that’s it.

    • Thomas Howland

      Thomas Howland says:
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      That’s why I put the caveat in. Good chance he hits 35 homer, steals 25, 150 runs, 100 RBI, and kills his contract year. Acuna has never reached his level, Yelich is a tiny but real health conern, Bellinger could regress, Bregman dealing with Astros blowback, Story a Coors wonder, Lindor has never reached Mookie’s 2018 high, Soto is young and could have sophomore slump. See, we can come up with negatives for all, but I don’t necessarily disagree with you.

  3. Thomas Howland

    Thomas Howland says:
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    You are getting to the heart of the matter. Mookie Betts is not Mike Trout or Ted Williams. But in this day and age, he’s about as close as it’s going to get in fantasy thanks to his stolen base potential, which goes along with the homers, runs, rbi and close to .300 batting average projection. But he’s definitely not hitting .346 like he did in 2018. Somewhere between 2017’s .264 & 2019’s .295.

  4. KrazyIvan says:
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    Last year Betts got pitched differently. More pitches away. Thus the pull % and barrel % dropped. Everything else was in line with the year before.

    Another difference was that the 2018 Sox would just explode on teams and got to a lot relief pitchers that were there to soak up innings in blow outs. I can see the Dodgers being that sort of team this year. Betts will not be facing a ton of high leverage pitchers because a lot of games will get out of hand.

    • Thomas Howland

      Thomas Howland says:
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      Good points, and entirely possible. An example of how being a good team can help.

  5. 183414 says:
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    I’d definitely take Bellinger over Betts, and perhaps even Story and Lindor, both studs. Don’t trust Soto as much w/out Rendon in front of him, and don’t think his s.b.’s move up a lot, but he is a stud. Only Astros I’ve drafted so far are Yordan and Springer. They did definitely cheat and I couldn’t root for Altuve and Bregman, with that smugness, knowing how they cheated.

    • Thomas Howland

      Thomas Howland says:
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      Definitely tricky drafting Astros this year.

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