In the least shocking baseball news of the year after the season that he had, Mookie Betts is your American League MVP, becoming the second player in baseball history (first in American League history) to win the World Series, MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in the same season. What a goddamn legend.
If you listen to Section 10, then you’re well aware of my endless rants about Betts’ quote from 2016 when he said that his season that year might end up being his greatest of all-time. This was his age-23 season that earned him an MVP runner-up to Mike Trout. I think I, like most others who have watched him, knew that this sentiment would prove to be false, and rather quickly.
Betts is one of the most talented players in the game, and it doesn’t take much time watching him to fully understand that. Gone are the days when 40 homers and 130 RBI serve as a one-way ticket to an MVP award. You have to be a complete player, and next to Trout, Betts has a very strong case for the most complete player in the game. I do, however, think that JD Martinez had a strong influence on Betts taking that next step. As we saw all year long, Martinez’s preparation for every single game is second to none and Betts became an information sponge under Martinez’s wing.
Betts’ God-given talent combined with an endless supply of information and a new mentor resulted in the outfielder leading the majors in WAR (10.9), which isn’t the end all be all, but it’s a great place to start. Betts also led the majors in batting average (.346), slugging percentage (.640), runs (129), had one fewer extra-base hit than Trevor Story (84), finished second to Trout in wRC+ (185), and only three players in baseball had a better defensive runs saved than him (+20).
Mookie Betts was the best player in baseball in 2018, period.