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.
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.
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.
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.