Boston Red Sox 2017 player review: The golden arm of Mookie Betts

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Mookie Betts
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Mookie Betts /

Production for Mookie Betts dipped slightly in 2017 for the Boston Red Sox, partially due to a mismatched spot in the batting order.

Opponents of the Boston Red Sox -in case they hadn’t already known – learned not to test the arms of the outfield.

The head of this efficient outfield sniper unit: None other than Mookie Betts.

Betts had another outstanding season for the Red Sox. He won’t be in the finals for MVP, like his 2016 campaign, but he earned his second consecutive Gold Glove Award on Tuesday.

An outfield of Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. are all gold-glove caliber players. The “win-dance-repeat” crew made for an exciting season in Boston.

Betts was at the forefront, with a .987 fielding percentage to go along with eight assists. Playing right field can be an adventure in Boston and Betts has proven to be a perfect fit in the hallowed corner.

Offensively, numbers for Betts took a dip compared to 2016. He was asked to bat leadoff for much of the season but he still produced. Part of the dip in production was due to a lack of a true power hitter in the lineup.

Related Story: Here’s why Mookie Betts won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards

Betts batted .264 with 24 home runs and 102 RBI’s. He scored 101 runs and had an OPS of .803.

Compare that to 2016, in which he hit .318 with 31 home runs and 113 RBI’s. The decline wasn’t drastic and there is no reason to believe he can’t get above those numbers in the future.

Despite hitting out of the one hole, Betts still had plenty of highlights in 2017.

Offensive outbursts at the right time

Considering Betts did not pick up his first RBI until the season’s seventh game, his production could have been much worse.

He didn’t stay down for long after that, hitting .293 for the month of April.

Betts gave the fans a treat with an eight-RBI game in a July 2 victory over Toronto. And he nearly duplicated the feat two months later with a six-RBI game in victory over Oakland.

The arrival of Eduardo Nunez eventually saw Betts move out of the leadoff spot. The move paid dividends in September as Betts hit .281 with six home runs and 24 runs batted in.

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This came after an August in which Betts struggled with a .223 average and only one home run.

Another area in which Betts struggled was against the New York Yankees. He collected only 16 hits in batting .213 against Boston’s hated rivals. Throw in only one home run and 13 strikeouts and it’s easy to find room for improvement.

Still, Betts produced for the Boston Red Sox as needed. Whether it was in the one hole (.266 avg, 16 HR/56 RBI) or the three hole (.270/6/26), Betts did what he could for the team.

Final grade

This was a tough one to gauge. For all that he does on offense, defense, and the bases, it would be easy to hand Betts an A.

I went with a B+.

Part of that was due to a so-so postseason. Betts did pick up five hits, but he failed to homer or drive in a run. He did score a couple of times, but eventually we’ll need to see the young guns step up in postseason play.

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The margin, overall, between the two grades was slim. There’s always room for improvement and I look for Betts to do exactly that.

Until then, keep handing the man gold gloves. And if he keeps improving, one day the MVP will be his.