Mookie Betts has seemed to slip under the radar so far this season, with most Red Sox fans being fixated on either David Ortiz’s historic feats or hitting streaks from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts. But that’s about to change as the calendar turns to June.
Betts became the first Red Sox leadoff hitter in more than 100 years to homer three times in a game Tuesday when Boston routed the Baltimore Orioles 6-2. He now has 12 home runs this season, which is one more than Red Sox right fielders hit all of last year.
— MLB (@MLB) June 1, 2016
If Betts keeps up this current pace, he’ll finish with 37 home runs, knock in 124 runs, steal 24 bases and collect 84 extra-base hits. Only one player in the American League, Alex Rodriguez, has accomplished that over the last 90 years. Betts is also on track to score 136 runs, which would be the most by an AL player since Lou Gehrig in 1936.
With a modest 5-foot-10 frame, Betts has already displayed historic power for a player his size. But now, at 23 years old, he’s ascended into superstardom. In addition to his prowess at the plate, he’s developed into one of the best defensive outfielders in the game—despite being an infielder up until two years ago.
After Tuesday night’s victory in Baltimore, the Red Sox are on track to win 100 games. The biggest reason for this latest worst-to-first turnaround is the fact that Betts, Bogaerts, and Bradley have all elevated their games to the next level. Given that Ortiz is set to retire at the end of the season, the emergence of this dynamic young core is the most important development of the year so far.
The nucleus of the 2013 championship team largely comprised aging veterans with expiring or short-term contracts. But the heart and soul of this season’s club seems destined to stick around for years to come, with Betts leading the way.
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