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Mookie Betts: fun with 162 game averages

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I’m not really a Mookie fan, but lets see if I can find the source of the bandwagon’s love.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Lastt season over 52 games and 213 PA Mookie Betts hit .291/.368/.444. He had 34 runs, 5 home runs, 18 runs batted in, and 7 steals. At that rate over 162 games he would have had 664PA, 106 R, 16HR, 56 RBI, and 22 steals, and obviously he would still have his .291 average.

The closest thing I can think of to that would be Anthony Rendon last season who was a beast. We’ll ignore that Rendon has 3 inches and 45 pounds on Mookie, and is on the better team, because I want to try and make the case for a guy whom I am very skeptical of going into this season.

Now in such a small sample size most of his rates haven’t stabilized. Certain things are considered useful much faster than others, unfortunately I don’t have access to the speed at which certain stats gain value, and so I’ll give you all of them and let you make a decision.

Last season Mookie hit line drives in 20.9% of his at bats. That puts him in between #83 Ben Revere and #84 Miguel Montero. His ground ball percentage was 40.5, which would slot him in between Victor Martinez and Jose Bautista. His fly balls, which aren’t a good thing people, were flying at a 38.6% rate. That’s between #48 Josh Harrison and #49 Lonnie Chisenhall. So for you stat lovers like myself

Revere+Miguel Montero+VMart+Bautista+Harrison+Chisenhall/6=Mookie Betts

That formula says it all folks. But lets delve into the other info we have. If there is one thing we know about Mookie Betts is that he is a patient man. He simply does not chase balls. Maybe it is because Mookie Betts did incredibly well in the Red Sox neuroscouting program, maybe he has eagle eyes, or maybe he just doesn’t like swinging at balls.

And he misses when he swings even less.

If you aren’t familiar with these numbers, those whiff rates are miniscule. For perspective on the year, last season Ben Revere had the best contact rate (92.4%) and swinging strike rate (3.2%) in the MLB last season. Mookie’s contact (88.3%), and swing strike rate (4.2%) would have left him in the top 20 and 10 players in baseball in those respective stats. This is something that is incredible for almost any player, but unprecedented for a player in his first 200 plate appearances in the MLB.

Next Mookie’s spray chart shows a nice balance of ground balls, line drives, and fly balls to all fields. His home runs are the five long fly balls to left field, indicating he like most players, has his best power to the pull side. But his power speed/combo might be the most interesting part of his game to me. Personally I’m of the belief that small guys are never going to have great power in the long run, and big guys will never be fast for their careers, so far this basic assumption has been very very good to me. But Mookie is one of the rare guys that while he’s young and has maximum athleticism could give my system some trouble. For a player of his size he surprisingly had the 118th farthest home run and fly ball distance last season out of 298 players data collected. Then pair that with very good speed, his 5.6 speed score would be the 30th best in baseball last season, putting him above Ian Kinsler, Coco Crisp, and ian Desmond.

Lastly, his babip was only .327 last season. Frankly, that’s pretty low for a guy who runs as well as he does, and makes a lot of good contact, while also having some pop in his bat. Mookie Betts is currently being picking 91st in ESPN ADP. In my own personal rankings I have Betts at 110, but I think anyone who wants to buy into the hype, isn’t clinging onto false hope. There is definitely talent, and a seemingly nice floor. Both of those things combined really help pump up a players value.

Now, after writing 700 words, remember what I started with. Almost all of the stats I gave you, that all other writers have been using as well, are likely not a stable sample size. We really don’t know if Mookie can replicate what he did, but we know what he did was not pure luck when he did it. Handle with caution, but do not fear Mookie Betts.