Red Sox Nation — With the recent departure of David Ortiz, fans all around must be scratching their heads thinking what’s next in store for the future of their storied franchise. Well, one needs to look no further than what’s already in front of them. In this past season, Mookie Betts has evolved into an unbelievable talent, finishing runner up to MVP winner Mike Trout. Betts finished just 45 points behind Trout in a close 356 – 311 race.
Personally, I feel that Betts had an incredible season that was overshadowed by a 2nd place finish in the MVP race just because it’s one of those instances where nobody really remembers who finishes second. The numbers that Betts put up should not be overlooked however — these were Big Papi type numbers that Red Sox fans would have sorely missed, but did not.
Now, not to take anything away from NL MVP winner Kris Bryant, because both Betts and Bryant play different positions — and to compare an MVP winner’s rookie year numbers to another player based on the future projections of their age is very unfair. The point here is Mookie Betts quietly put up a very good year statistically. Here are the numbers for comparison at age 23 from each of the mentioned players:
Betts’ numbers eclipses Bryant’s in all major categories. The comparison on this past year’s MVP race between Trout and Betts is so close that Betts may have very well won MVP had it been any other year. Betts hit for a higher average, hit more home runs, collected more RBIs, and had more steals than Trout. The only major category in which Trout flat out won was OBP. Trout’s absurd .441 OBP was .72 higher than Betts which was probably enough to put Trout over the top in the race. If the numbers are indicative of anything, it’s showing that Mookie Betts is already up there with some of the best, and doing so at the age of 23.
If that’s not good enough, Boston’s star-studded outfield includes rookie Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi is young and has had a very successful first stint in the majors this past year posting a .295 average and .359 on base percentage in 105 at bats, impressive numbers for any 22 year old to put up.
Image by The Boston Herald
Benintendi’s quick arrival means good news for Red Sox nation. After getting drafted in the 1st round in 2015, Benintendi excelled in minors. Without even finishing his full second year in AA, the Boston brass made the decision to call up Benintendi. Typically, even some of the most talented players need at least two years in the minors to polish up their game. Benintendi is one of the few exceptions.
I think Benintendi is going to turn out to be a lot better of a player than most people may perceive. At just 5’10″and 180 pounds, Benintendi brings a whole lot of pop to the table, an area I feel most people would write him off without even giving a second look. Benintendi has shown the ability to hit for average and steal bases in the minors. I think this is imperative for a player his size when being evaluated. The best part is that Benintendi has shown that he is more than that.
On top of all that, Benintendi’s college career entails a list of some of the highest accolades. We’re talking about Baseball America’s College Player of the Year and the Golden Spikes Award. These honors backs what Benintendi has been able to do against some of the top competition in college. And given some more time for growth in the majors, Benintendi may very well contend with those at the highest level.
Whether a player will excel or flop is not something that is easy to project. Benintendi and Betts have already shown that they are both rising talents with Betts already making his name known. With Big Papi now out of the picture, Red Sox Nation can rest easy with two young rising stars picking up the load.