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).
|Rk||Name||Age||Tm||K%||Exit velo (mph)|
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.
Alex Speier can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexspeier.