The Boston Red Sox are off to a historically great start, and a red-hot Mookie Betts has been leading the way on offense.
Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts bats leadoff for a reason. He’s the table-setter for the team. When he’s on, the team is on, and boy is he on right now.
Through 10 games, the 25-year-old stud currently boasts an absurd slash line of .432/.533/.730. To go along with those astronomically high numbers are 2 home runs, 2 stolen bases, and just 3 strikeouts in his 45 plate appearances. Cue the Zoolander reference.
Mookie Betts so hot right now, Mookie Betts.
But beyond basic statistics, just how locked in is Mookie and why?
Plate Discipline and Hand-Eye Coordination
The most impressive thing about Mookie’s unbelievable start is his contact percentage. According to Fangraphs, Betts has a 96.2% contact percentage, which means he has made contact with 96.2% of pitches he has swung at.
What’s even more impressive is that Mookie has yet to swing and miss at a pitch in the strike zone. That’s INSANE.
What allows Betts to make contact at such an astounding rate is not only his elite hand-eye coordination and lightning fast hands, but his vision and plate discipline as well.
Of the pitches outside the strike zone Mookie has seen in 2018, he has swung at just 14.1% of them (10 out of 72). This percentage, albeit from a small sample size, is the lowest of his 5-year career.
By not chasing pitches out of the zone, Mookie has found himself in many advantage counts this season. The result? Something like his incredible performance last night.
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Mookie Betts is a beacon of light in a dark abyss of new-school hitting philosophy. Sabermetrically, it might be beneficial for certain players to sacrifice batting average and contact percentage for inflated power numbers. But not for Mookie.
No, Mookie thrives under the old-school philosophy of hitting: hit line drives and be a pest with two strikes.
Of course, a .432 batting average is unsustainable over the course of a season. What is sustainable, however, is stellar plate discipline and an advanced approach.
What it boils down to is simply this: how can a pitcher get a guy out if he rarely offers at balls and never swings and misses in the zone? You can’t, really.
If Mookie continues to step up to the plate with this same attitude and approach, he’s in for a career year. The Boston Red Sox have already been reaping the benefits of his success, but there’s so much more to come. This will be fun.
P.S. The only thing I’m upset about is that I didn’t write this article sooner. Imagine how smart I would have looked if I wrote this before his 4-4 night with two doubles, a grand slam, a walk, 5 runs scored, and 4 RBIs?