Welcome to BP Boston’s second annual Roster Recap series. Over the next few months, we’ll be analyzing every player on Boston’s 40-man roster and many of their top prospects in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the Red Sox roster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as what we can expect moving forward. From MVP-candidate right fielders to reserve relievers, we want to give you a look at every Red Sox who might matter in 2017. View the complete list of Roster Recaps here. Enjoy!
There is not an easier Roster Recap entry to write than the one for Mookie Betts. He’s a 24-year-old MVP runner-up signed through 2021. He hit .318/.363/.534 with 42 doubles and 31 home runs. He inspires iconic art. Mookie Betts is very good.
WHAT WENT RIGHT IN 2016
Just his hitting and his power and his baserunning and his defense. Of people who aren’t specifically Mike Trout, he’s the best position player in baseball. After a stellar 2015 season, Betts saw his stats rise almost unanimously across the board. His AVG, OBP, SLG, and TAv were all higher and he almost doubled his home run count in 2016. Of all AL hitters, he ranked second in average, hits, and runs, was tied for third in doubles and fourth in extra base hits. He led baseball in defensive runs saved with 32; 10 higher than the runner-up. He was an All-Star and won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. One could argue that his season even outperformed our outlook for him last year, and that’s saying something. So now, let us appreciate Mookie Betts:
WHAT WENT WRONG IN 2016.
Nothing went wrong in 2016. Are you really that interested in having me try and find some reason to rain on this parade? (His BB% went down .3%!!) Are you really here to read about what Mookie Betts didn’t do well? Yeah, he didn’t win MVP and that’s presumably a bummer for him, but it’s not like having a season where ONE PERSON is voted better than you means you did something wrong.
OUTLOOK FOR 2017
Probably a whole lot of the same. Barring an unforeseen injury, there’s no reason to believe the Red Sox won’t get MVP-caliber play out of their MVP-caliber right fielder. There will be sliding catches and outfield dances. There will be doubles. Think of all the doubles.
Maybe 31 homers is a lot to expect next season. He will undoubtedly be pitched to even more carefully, and even with the lineup protection that the Red Sox payroll can provide him, 31 always felt like it was overachieving just a little. After two straight seasons of a steady 8.2 percent HR/FB ratio, that number jumped five points to 13.2 in 2016. While it’s certainly possible that Betts’ has just developed into that type of a power hitter, his track record from seasons before suggests there may be a slight drop in power next year. And if that’s not the most annoying nitpick of a paragraph, I don’t know what is.
Photo by Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports Images