USA Today Sports

Mookie Betts wins batting crown after Alex Cora calls him best player in baseball

Rob Bradford
September 30, 2018 - 4:36 pm

There aren't too many players the manager feels it necessary to take out of a game in order to get a round of applause from the Fenway Park crowd. But Mookie Betts earned the right to fit that bill.

After running out to his spot in right field to start the third inning Sunday afternoon, Alex Cora sent out Tzu-Wei Lin to replace Betts, who was met with a wave of appreciation from the home crowd while running into the dugout.

Betts finished his last regular season game going 1-for-2, allowing for a season-ending batting average of .346. It was far and away the best average in the American League, with J.D. Martinez starting the day .329.

The outfielder becomes the first Red Sox player to win the American League batting crown since Bill Mueller hit .326 in 2003. Wade Boggs represents the most recent Red Sox hitter to top all of Major League Baseball, having hit .366 in 1988.

Betts is the first major leaguer to lead all of the majors in batting average while also claiming 30-or-more stolen bases and home runs. The only other Red Sox players to hit .340 or better with 80-or-more extra-bases hits are Ted Williams (4 times) and Jimmie Foxx.

The feats accomplished by Betts this season led to the question before Sunday's game of Cora, asking the manager if he believed his right fielder was the best all-around player in baseball.

"I do believe so because of what he does defensively. I think that’s a game-changer," Cora said. "We know what he can do on the basepaths. Obviously his power now, he’s getting on base at a high rate. He’s one of the best defenders in the league. You put the whole package and I know what Mike (Trout) is doing in LA and nothing against him, but this guy defensively, that’s the separator."