When your initials are “M L B,” a career in professional baseball is basically determined at birth. Or in Mookie Betts’ case, a career in baseball, with serious bowling and golfing on the side. In short: the guy seems to be good at anything and everything he sets his mind to.
This season, Mookie seems laser-focused on being an absolute phenom at the plate, though he’s been pretty spectacular defensively, too. Orioles manager Buck Showalter called him the ‘best right-fielder he’s ever seen.’ Royals manager Ned Yost called him ‘a special player.’ His new manager Alex Cora has only praise for his leadoff hitter: when asked if Betts would ever be moved down from the leadoff position, Cora said, “The temptation is to move him higher, probably. He’ll hit leadoff for us the rest of the season.”
Yesterday, Mookie made history when he had his 4th 3-home run game, his second of the season. He had solo shots in the 4th, 5th, and 8th inning to help propel the Sox to a 5-4 victory and series victory against Kansas City. He’s currently batting .365/.461/.823 with 21 RBIs and a league-high 11 homers and 21 RBIs. His team is a league-best 22-8.
With his 4th 3-homer game, Betts now has the most in Red Sox history. He was previously tied with Ted Williams at three apiece after his 3-homer game in Anaheim on April 17th. But now, at the ripe old age of 25, he’s set a new franchise record and surpassed Teddy Ballgame, an accomplishment he says is “pretty cool… Just to know my name is amongst his is pretty cool.”
As if beating Ted Williams wasn’t cool enough, Betts is also the youngest player in MLB history to have four 3-homer games. And he’s only the second player ever to have multiple 3-homer games in multiple seasons; the first was Johnny Mize in 1938 and 1940.
It’s so great to see a supremely talented player living up to his potential, smashing expectations like they’re just more home runs. He hit 31 homers in 2016, finishing second for AL MVP, but like the majority of his team, he experienced a drop-off in 2017, leading the Sox with just 24 home runs; the Sox finished last in the American League in that category. Now, just over five weeks into the season, Betts is already nearly halfway to his 2017 total. Whether he’ll surpass his 2016 numbers doesn’t even seem like a question.
While Mookie was pretty modest about the achievement, saying “Some of it is surprising to myself,” his teammates and franchise legends haven’t stayed quiet about the milestone:
— Fred Lynn (@19fredlynn) May 2, 2018
— Hanley Ramirez ⚾️ (@HanleyRamirez) May 2, 2018
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) May 2, 2018
The season is still young, but so is Mookie Betts. It’s safe to say we have a lot to look forward to on both fronts.
Photo: Red Sox Twitter