Mookie vs Trout

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A lot of things went right for the Red Sox in 2018, and no one enjoyed a better season than the American League MVP Mookie Betts.  After the historic season, many Red Sox fans were clamoring for the Sox to sign Betts to a mega contract extension at the going market rate for superstars.  However, like most of what happened in 2018, Betts has failed to come close to his level of production this season.  In my latest Red Sox Column To Be Named Later, I compare Betts’ numbers with what many claim to be his counterpart at the hierarchy of current players.  I also question if the Minnesota Twins are for real, run down who is hot and who is not, and take a look ahead at what lies ahead on the schedule.
 
Photo courtesy of bostonherald.com
Will The Real Mookie Betts Please Stand Up

Betts had a phenomenal 2018 and was well deserving of the MVP Award.  Without him, the Red Sox would certainly not have won 108 games on their way to another World Series.  Most people assumed Betts would continue that level of play, and advocated for the Red Sox to lock up the outfielder with a long term deal.  And money was no option.

The player to which Betts is so often compared in the Angels’ Mike Trout, both on the field and in contract value.  Fans thought Betts was worthy of a contract in the same $30 M Average Annual Value which Trout commands.  Betts politely eschewed thoughts of an extension, stating a preference to continue to go year-to-year and let the situation play itself out.  This may be backfiring on him.

Aside from a few games where he has flashed his form of 2018, Betts has had a genrally down year in 2019.  Through 74 games, Betts is slashing only .266/.387/.454, with 11 home runs and 33 RBI.  Last season, Betts posted a .346/.438/.640 line, leading the AL in batting and slugging percentage.  In 2018, Betts Wins Above Replacement led the MLB at 10.9.  This season, he is only at 3.0.  That’s far from a $30 M AAV player.

Since 2015, Betts has been an above average player, but has not posted two outstanding seasons in a row.

Year
AVG
OB%
SLG%
HR
RBI
WAR
2015
.291
.341
.479
18
77
5.9
2016
.318
.363
.534
31
113
9.7
2017
.264
.344
.459
24
102
6.4
2018
.346
.438
.640
32
80
10.9
2019
.266
.387
.464
12
35
3.1
                                                                                    Bold = leads AL  Red = leads MLB

Trout’s numbers portray a much different type of player, one who is a model of both production and consistency.

Year
AVG
OB%
SLG%
HR
RBI
WAR
2015
.299
.402
.590
41
90
10.5
2016
.315
.441
.550
29
100
9.7
2017
.306
.442
.629
33
72
6.6
2018
.312
.460
.628
39
79
10.2
2019
.299
.462
.651
22
56
5.0
                                                                                    Bold = league leader  Red = leads MLB

Trout’s numbers are even more impressive when it is taken into account that he has had little protection in the Angels’ lineup aside from a well beyond his prime Albert Pujols.  By contrast, Betts has had both David Ortiz and J.D. Martinez to take some of the pressure off of him in the Red Sox lineup, with the exception of 2017, which was a low mark in Betts’ career.

It’s clear that Betts has had some good offensive seasons, but he is not in the category of Trout, and perhaps never will be.  His inconsistent numbers should not get him a contract in Trout’s neighborhood ($35.45 M AAV through 2030).  The Red Sox may have lucked out that Betts declined to sign a contract extension.

2019 MLB All-Star Gear at MLBshop.comContenders or Pretenders?

The Red Sox series win over the Twins was only their second of the season against a team with a winning record (a sweep at Tampa Bay earlier this season being the other).  The Twins may have had the best record in baseball coming into the series, and were leading the majors in homers by a decent margin, but they did not appear ready to compete against the iron of the league.

The Twins high powered offense was shut out for the first twelve innings in the series, and only scored eight runs in the remaining 23 innings.  They made an inexplicable decision to bunt with their best player late in the first game, then ran into an out at the plate to take themselves out of scoring position in a one run game.  They showed some grit in repeatedly coming back in the second game to win in 17 innings, but were blown out in the finale when they had a chance to take the series.

Trending Up

One of the few good stories in a disappointing 2019 Red Sox campaign has been the play of Xander Bogaerts.  After inking a contract extension earlier this year, the shortstop has continued to emerge as a team leader both on and off the field.  Bogaerts has been the most consistent player in the lineup this season, and the past ten games have been no exception.  Bogaerts slashed .361/.500/667 over that span, adding five doubles, two homers, and seven RBI.

Another standout offensively has been the return of the “Brockstar” – Brock Holt.  Holt slashed .344/.405/.531 in the past ten games, and his eight RBI are tied with J.D. Martinez for the team lead.

On the mound, Michael Shawaryn has provided a boost to an overtaxed bullpen.  Shawaryn logged six innings over the past ten days, and has not allowed an earned run in his appearances.

Rick Porcello has also quietly turned in a pair of outstanding starts, first against the Rangers after the Red Sox lost the first two games of the four game set with Texas, and again on Monday night to set the tone in the three game series with the Twins.  In 13.1 innings pitched, Porcello allowed only two earned runs and striking out 14 while walking only one. 

Porcello may not be the most dominant pitcher on the staff, but he rarely misses his turn and eats up innings.  The odds are long that he will be in Boston next season, due to the team’s salary constraints.  The choice of Nathan Eovaldi over Porcello looks worse and worse with each week Eovaldi spends on the IL.

Trending Down

Thanks in large part to a few offensive outbursts, particularly with their games against the dreadful Orioles pitching, no Red Sox regular turned in a noteworthy poor performance over the past ten games.  Though a poor performance from Sandy Leon is not necessarily noteworthy, his recent performance is slightly below par even for him.  The de facto personal catcher for Chris Sale and Rick Porcello slashed .071/.188/.071, with no extra base hits.

After being highlighted in my last RSCTBNL, David Price has taken a predictable downturn.  In two starts over the past ten games, Price lasted only 1.1 innings in his start last week against Texas, and followed that with a good start against the Twins, however, he came out after throwing only five innings and 73 pitches.  The reasons given by Alex Cora for his early exit made no sense (taken out early because he had a short start prior?) and fuels suspicions that Price is battling some type of physical ailment.

Look Ahead

The Red Sox kick off an eight game “home” stand tonight in the first of a three game series with the Blue Jays, to be followed by a three game set with the White Sox.  The Red Sox will then conclude their “home” stand with a two game series against the Yankees in London.  The Red Sox will have two days off for travel prior to the Yankee series, so they should have their pitching in order.

The Red Sox need to continue to dominate teams like the Blue Jays and White Sox so they can stay within striking distance of the Yankees, who are coming off a sweep of Tampa Bay Rays to give themselves a little breathing room atop the AL East by 3.5 games going into play on Thursday night.  The Red Sox have to keep pace and hope to take both games overseas to have any hopes of winning a third straight Division title.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: Mookie vs Trout
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