Making the case for Mookie Betts as AL’s second-best player


Mike Trout is the best player in the American League. He was the best in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and, if we mitigate his injuries and count on a per-game basis, 2017 too. Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012 … and Trout was still a better overall player than Cabrera was.

With Trout the undisputed best player in the league (and on the planet), the real fun starts when you debate number two.

Last year’s AL MVP Jose Altuve has to be in the discussion. We also can’t leave out Aaron Judge, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, who’s so hot he might actually burst into flames by season’s end. But with the Toronto Blue Jays opening a four-game set against the Boston Red Sox Thursday night, let’s make the case for the best player on the best team in baseball: Mookie Betts.

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Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling take fans inside the Blue Jays and around MLB with news, analysis and interviews.

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In late May and early June, an abdominal strain knocked Betts out of the lineup for more than two weeks. That’s left his counting stats a bit short of the numbers put up by fellow hitting stars Trout, Ramirez and J.D. Martinez. Use the same per-game/per at-bat standard applied to Trout last year, though, and one thing becomes clear: Betts has been the single best hitter in all of baseball this season.

Boston’s standout right fielder leads MLB in both batting average (.350) and slugging (.675). Only Trout can top his stellar .439 on-base percentage. By Weighted Runs Created Plus, a rate stat that considers all offensive contributions, adjusts for park factors, and spits out a final tally, Betts rates an incredible 97 per cent better than the average major league hitter this year, beating out Trout and everyone else.

At age 25, the already explosive Betts has hiked his game to another level. Already owning an incredible batting eye, he’s been even more discerning at the plate this year. Already less apt to swing at pitches out of the strike zone than most of his AL rivals, Betts has offered at just 18 per cent of pitches out of the zone in 2018, the lowest mark of his five-year career, and also the lowest in the entire junior circuit. He’s also swinging at more pitches in the zone than ever before, with a swinging strike rate that’s declined for the third straight season (and also ranks among the best in the league).

This isn’t just your garden-variety high contact rate either. Betts is hitting more flyballs and fewer groundballs than ever before. He’s also pulling the …read more

Source:: Sportsnet

      

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