Alex Cora on OMF gives thoughts on MVP debate between Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez

Cameron Kerry
August 15, 2018 - 5:44 pm

As the MLB season nears the stretch run, the Red Sox boast the two leading candidates for the American League MVP award: Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.

The two are first and second in the league in average and slugging percentage, while Martinez leads the majors in home runs and RBIs. 

Appearing on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria Wednesday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was asked who he thought should take home the award, but he couldn't pick a side.

"I'll be polite: I've got twins, and I love them both," he said.

Both Betts and Martinez have been instrumental in the Red Sox' offensive success. Betts has produced memorable moments, from his 13-pitch grand-slam off of J.A. Happ to hitting for the cycle in Toronto, while Martinez has had some of the most clutch hits of the season.

"I know what Mookie has done to this offense from the leadoff spot," Cora said. "I know people are going to bring up the RBIs, but we don't really care. As long as he scores, the better he is at his job. With J.D., he's changed the complexion of this lineup. Offensively, he's a force. If you ask any manager that we've played this year, they talk so great about this guy: how he's changed this lineup, how tough he is, how tough of an out he is." 

Here are more highlights from the interview.

On stealing bases and baseball analytics: "Stealing bases is a big part of what we do and there's a lot of people around baseball that don't agree that stealing a base moves the needle that much. We do feel that we can put pressure on the opposition now that everybody is shifting. We put hit and runs, and guys are going the other way, and we can go first to third. We aren't the greatest baserunning team out there, but as far as stealing bases, you can see - the Indians and us, one and two in stolen bases. That's a big part of what both teams are doing. Look where we are at offensively: we can do a lot of things differently compared to others because we are that athletic and can take advantage of certain situations."

On how the Red Sox can beat opponents: "I do feel on a nightly basis, the guy on the mound is going to give us a chance to win. Offensively, we match up with anybody. I really feel that way. If our guy goes out there and gives us six...we feel like we can score four or five. Also, we don't rely on the home run. If we don't hit the ball out of the ballpark, we will put pressure on you. We steal bases, and on a base hit, we can score from second. Not every team can do that, and that's why I think we've been so consistent."

On Ryan Brazier's emergence: "One thing for sure: Ryan Brazier has been outstanding for us. 98, 99 with a good slider. He's going to get more high-leverage situations and see where we go."

On the team's perceived bullpen struggles: "Everybody talks about the bullpen, but our record with the lead after six [innings] is like 60-4, I want to say. For what everybody feels, we do a good job keeping the score the way it was early in the game and we win games."

On the steps that Joe Kelly needs to take to improve: "First of all, he [Joe] needs to start landing the breaking ball early in the count. It seems like whenever he throws the breaking ball early in the count, it's ball one. He tries it again, it's ball two. It doesn't matter if he throws 98 or 99, people are going to be ready for the fastball. I think with him it's pitch mix. When he's able to mix up his breaking stuff, and then use his fastball when he's ahead in the count, he becomes very dominant."