Coming off an impressive 2015 season, fans and pundits alike foresaw a big 2016 campaign for young Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts. No one saw this season coming. In 145 games last season, Bett’s hit .291 with 18 home runs, 68 extra-base-hits and 77 RBI. In just 115 games this season Betts is hitting .315 with, 28 homers, 67 extra-base-hits and 89 RBI. If not for his teammate David Ortiz‘s MVP-caliber season at the the age of 40 getting all the attention, Mookie Betts would be the MVP favorite in the American League.
Going into Wednesday night, the Red Sox are tied with the Baltimore Orioles for second in the AL East 1.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays. Fortunately for Bett’s candidacy the Red Sox are sitting three games up in the Wild Card. If the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs then Betts probably won’t get MVP. Last season Josh Donaldson won the award over reigning MVP Mike Trout almost exclusively because the Blue Jays were a much better team than the Angels. If the Red Sox do make the playoffs, whether it be through the division or the Wild Card then Betts has as good an argument as anyone to take home the hardware.
Mookie Betts AL MVP Favorite
Betts sits second in the AL in batting average behind Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and is also second in hits behind Altuve. Betts is also second in the league in runs, seventh in home runs, fourth in RBI, sixth in steals, third in slugging, sixth in OPS and third in WAR. In simpler terms, Betts is top-10 and in most cases top five in every major offensive category excluding walks and OBP. The only players who Betts should be competing with for MVP at this point in the season are Altuve and Donaldson. Both the Astro second baseman and Blue Jay third basemen have comparable offensive numbers to Betts.
However, Betts has far more home runs than Altuve, 28 to 19, more RBI 89 to 75 and more runs scored. Both have been leadoff hitters for the majority of the season so position in the batting order doesn’t give either player the advantage in terms of stat accumulation. Betts has recently been hitting third for Boston. The Red Sox are also firmly entrenched in the playoffs while the Astros are on the outside looking it. Altuve does have a higher average, a higher OPS. and a much higher on-base percentage but unless the Astros make a run and sneak into the playoffs the votes will probably go Bett’s way.
Reigning MVP Josh Donaldson is having an equally impressive season but Betts also has him beat in everything minus OBP and OPS. Donaldson winning last year could also hurt his chances if the writers decide they would rather see a new face win the award. The outcome of the AL East will probably determine the vote totals between Betts and Donaldson.
With about two months left in the season the American League MVP Award is definitely up for grabs. Looking at the season so far and especially over the last few weeks Mookie Betts should be the MVP. Racking up game-winning hits and two and three-home-run games, he has all the momentum to win the award. The playoff races are heating up and are going to be fun to watch. The American League MVP race might be even more exciting to see unfold down the stretch.