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Mookie Betts named American League MVP after leading Red Sox to championship

John Tomase
November 15, 2018 - 5:33 pm

Mookie Betts was the best player on the best team in baseball, so it should come as no surprise that he was named the American League MVP on Thursday.

Betts received 28 first-place votes and 410 points, easily outdistancing two-time MVP Mike Trout (265 points) of the Angels and third baseman Jose Ramirez (208) of the Indians. Teammate J.D. Martinez finished fourth with 198 points and received one of the two first-place votes that didn't go to Betts (Trout got the other).

Betts was a force from the start. He won the AL batting title with a .346 average and also paced the league in slugging (.640) while becoming the second Red Sox player in history to record a 30-30 season, joining Jacoby Ellsbury.

Betts finished with 32 homers, 30 steals, and a league-leading 129 runs. He also won his third straight Gold Glove in right field, earned his second Silver Slugger, and reached his third straight All-Star Game.

Betts provided more than numbers, however. He delivered some of the biggest hits of the season, including a marathon 13-pitch at-bat that ended in a grand slam vs. Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ in mid-July, as well as a walkoff homer vs. the Twins two weeks later.

Though he didn’t perform to his standards in the playoffs, hitting .210 with one homer, he made a number of pivotal defensive plays in right field, include the fan-interfered out on what looked like a home run by Jose Altuve in the first inning of Game 4.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee's Christian Yelich fell one vote shy of being a unanimous MVP in the National League.

Betts has finished second, sixth, and now first in the last three MVP votes. As good as he was in 2016, when he hit 31 homers and drove in a career-high 113 runs en route to a second-place finish behind Trout, Betts took his game to another level this season.

He became the first Red Sox player to win the batting title since Bill Mueller in 2003, and his 1.078 OPS ranks 14th in team history, trailing nine seasons from Ted Williams, two from Jimmie Foxx, and one each from Babe Ruth and Manny Ramirez.

Betts, who just turned 26, was drafted by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2011 draft as a high schooler out of Tennessee. He began his career as a second baseman, but reached the big leagues as an outfielder and hasn’t looked back.