fb-pixel Skip to main content

Mookie Betts distinguishes himself as someone who combines traits that aren’t usually found together: Though just 5-foot-9, he hits the stuffing out of baseballs. Though he hits the stuffing out of baseballs, he also is an impact runner on the bases and athlete in the field. He can bowl a perfect game and dunk a basketball. He can levitate yet remains grounded.

Matt Collins of Over the Monster examines one of the more interesting pairings of Betts’ skills, chiefly his ability to make contact/avoid strikeouts while still making consistent hard contact.

Another way of looking at that pairing of skills: In 2015, Betts struck out in just 12.5 percent of plate appearances, the 27th lowest rate among all qualifying hitters in baseball. Of the players with the 30 lowest strikeout rates last year, Betts: 1) Was the youngest; 2) had the highest rate of plate appearances that ended in an extra-base hit (10.4 percent); and 3) featured the third highest average exit velocity (on average, the ball came off Betts’ bat at 91.8 mph, behind only Albert Pujols (10.9 percent strikeout rate, 92.2 mph average exit velocity) and Prince Fielder (12.7 percent strikeout rate, 92.2 mph average exit velocity).

A different kind of contact hitter
Lowest strikeout rate among qualifying MLB hitters, 2015
Rk Name Age Tm K% Exit velo (mph)
1 Daniel Murphy 30 NYM 7.10% 91.3
2 Andrelton Simmons 25 ATL 8.20% 87.1
3 Buster Posey 28 SFG 8.40% 90.0
4 Michael Brantley 28 CLE 8.60% 90.3
5 Jose Altuve 25 HOU 9.70% 87.1
6 Yangervis Solarte 27 SDP 9.80% 89.4
7 Ben Revere 27 TOT 10.10% 83.0
8 Ender Inciarte 24 ARI 10.30% 86.3
9 Adrian Beltre 36 TEX 10.50% 90.7
10 Ben Zobrist 34 TOT 10.50% 89.7
11 Brandon Phillips 34 CIN 10.90% 86.7
12 Alexei Ramirez 33 CHW 10.90% 85.5
13 Albert Pujols 35 LAA 10.90% 92.2
14 Yadier Molina 32 STL 11.10% 87.1
15 Josh Reddick 28 OAK 11.20% 89.8
16 Alcides Escobar 28 KCR 11.30% 85.4
17 Erick Aybar 31 LAA 11.40% 86.1
18 Yunel Escobar 32 WSN 11.80% 90.5
19 Elvis Andrus 26 TEX 11.80% 88.6
20 Johnny Giavotella 27 LAA 11.80% 86.5
21 Ian Kinsler 33 DET 11.90% 87.2
22 Jose Reyes 32 TOT 12.00% 85.9
23 Nick Markakis 31 ATL 12.10% 90.0
24 Martin Prado 31 MIA 12.30% 90.3
25 Wilmer Flores 23 NYM 12.40% 87.9
26 Mike Moustakas 26 KCR 12.40% 91.3
27 Mookie Betts 22 BOS 12.50% 91.8
28 Prince Fielder 31 TEX 12.70% 92.2
29 Melky Cabrera 30 CHW 12.90% 91.4
30 Aramis Ramirez 37 TOT 13.20% 88.6
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference.com, MLB

In other words, Betts makes something approximating the contact (in frequency and impact) that made Pujols and Fielder $200-plus million sluggers – while also featuring a far more dynamic skill set than those two at a time when his best years are likely in front of him. That package is hardly a guarantee of stardom, but if one were betting on who the Red Sox’ best player will be in 2016, it would be hard to argue with the choice of a player whose underlying skills are matched by few players in the big leagues.

Advertisement




Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexspeier.

Advertisement