BOSTON – So far in this countdown, I have crowned Isaiah Thomas as the best Boston Celtic of the decade, Patrice Bergeron as the best Boston Bruin, and now I must make the call that Mookie Betts is the best Boston Red Sox player of the past ten years.
Chris Sale and David Ortiz also appeared on my countdown of the top 10 Boston athletes of the decade, but Betts will be the last baseball player in the top ten.
Betts is in an interesting position right now, but that does not mean I want to write any less glowingly about him. Rumors are swirling that his time in Boston is coming to an end and the Red Sox seem likely to trade him during the off-season because of their unwillingness to pay him the mega-contract he desires in the 2020 off-season. I'm still holding out a ton of hope that Mookie will return, but we need to put that aside for now to celebrate all that Betts has accomplished since making his Boston debut in 2014.
In his first season, he played just 52 games and I remember feeling skeptical about his chances going forward. I loved his name, however, so I kept tabs on him as he became a full-time player from the beginning of 2015 and he never looked back.
His stats are absolutely remarkable, especially when considering that he is just 26 years old and probably has not peaked yet. He hit .301 in the decade, including an MLB-leading .346 last season. He led the league in runs for the past two seasons, with 129 and 134, respectively, showing how smart he is about getting on base. In the decade, he also 962 total hits, 139 home runs, 469 runs batted in, and 126 stolen bases. Defensively, he has been among the elite with a .992 fielding percentage. His WAR has been an astonishing 42.0. Arguably, aside from Mike Trout, no baseball player has been as good or as valuable as Betts has since 2014.
Aside from statistical greatness, Betts was also a critical piece of the 2018 World Series championship team as the win also came during the year when he was named American League MVP, the first Boston player to do it since Dustin Pedroia in 2008. He also won a Gold Glove last year, his third, a Silver Slugger, his second, and he was named to the All-Star game, which was one of four appearances. In 2016, he finished second in MVP voting and in 2017, despite a down year, he finished sixth. He finished nineteenth in 2015.
Betts has been a historically-great player and he is arguably a Red Sox legend already. I can only hope that he will be on this list once 2029 rolls around.
Also, in the past decade, Betts has bowled three perfect games on the bowling alley and he has also won the 2019 CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational. Greatest two-sport athlete of all-time, anyone?
Image via Flickr / KA Sports Photos