Markus Lynn Betts should be the American League’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season.
Most baseball writers in the country have the award going to Mike Trout of the Angels, although they haven’t been in the postseason conversation for most of the year. Trout is the best all around player in the game. From defense, to power, to average, and speed, he is the epitome of a five-tool player and was one of the few lone bright spots for the Angels this season. He posted a .315 batting average with a career-high .441 on base percentage, with 29 homeruns and 30 stolen bases with a WAR of 10.6. A stellar season for MLB’s best player, but that doesn’t make him the AL MVP.
In order to anoint an MVP, you first have to decide what the award really means. If it is an award that just goes to the best player, or the player with the best stats, thenn that’s fine, but then change the name of the award. Can a player win the MVP while his team misses the playoffs? Sure, it happened last year with Bryce Harper but he was far and away the most valuable player in the league. The MVP should go to a player that most changed his team from game 1 to game 162. And that player is Mookie Betts.
It’s hard to imagine Betts season playing second fiddle to anyone, but with the David Ortiz retirement tour getting the main stage, it almost seems like Betts isn’t getting the respect he deserves. Betts is hitting .318 with a .363 OBP and has added 31 homeruns, 113 RBI’s and 26 stolen bases. Offensively he is a top talent and put up the numbers to prove it, but where Mookie’s MVP consideration really jumps off the charts is with his defense. His 32 defensive runs saved, blows Trout’s 6 out of the water to go along with 14 outfield assists to Trout’s 7.
The case will be made for Trout that you cannot fault him for being on a bad team, and that’s true. But you also can’t say that Betts being in a lineup with Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts, and David Ortiz is the sole reason for his stellar season. You can’t blame the surrounding team for one singular player's performance. Betts hit in the leadoff spot for most of the 2016 season and still managed to drive in 113 RBI’s which is usually a number for someone hitting in the 3rd or 4th spot in the batting order.
The most resounding statistic for the case of Mookie for MVP is his stat line in wins versus losses. In Red Sox victories, Betts hit .358 with an OPS of 1.019. In loses, he hit .258 with an OPS of .708. In the 66 Red Sox losses, he struck out 46 times while in the 92 Red Sox wins he only struck out 34 times. The 2016 Red Sox rode the ups and downs of the 2016 season with Mookie Betts as their barometer and that is why he should be the 2016 American League Most Valuable Player.
PS- His great dancing doesn’t hurt his case either.