11-3 with a 2.61 ERA. Those are the stats of a potential AL Cy Young award winner entering the Fourth of July. During the first half of the season, Chris Sale has been a blessing to Red Sox fans, giving them everything they have asked for and more. Sale has dominated nearly every opponent that he has faced this season and is unquestionably the leader of the Sox rotation that features two previous Cy Young award winners and some other promising players. Sale has struck out 166 batters on the season which is far and away the most of any AL pitcher. His value to the Sox is unquestionable but if there is one player the Red Sox could not live without, it would be Mookie Betts.
The converted second baseman leads the Red Sox in important statistical categories like home runs and stolen bases out of the lead off spot. Mookie isn’t limited there though as he can slide back into the three hole if need be. He consistently hits for average coming into the July 3rd game with a .286 average, 15 home runs and 51 RBIs, helped by an 8 RBI 2 HR game the day before. Betts plays a huge role in defending a tricky right field at Fenway covering arguably more ground than anyone in the league. His speed and agility make him a player made for Fenway and certain to cash a huge check when the time comes.
Aside from the stat comparison, Betts is more valuable than Sale simply because of the position he plays. Yes the argument can be made that every fifth day the Sox have a better chance at winning than the other team which is incredibly valuable. But Betts does his thing in the outfield and at the plate every day. He showed us on Sunday how he can singlehandedly win a game for a baseball team. Singles turn into doubles with Betts speed on the bases every night. Runs are being driven in by Mookie every night. The leadoff hitter in the Sox lineup needs to be pitched around in some cases every night causing a huge problem for opposing players and managers every night.
Betts saves runs in the outfield which is something that Sale really can’t do on the mound. With his arm and speed, Betts is able to take away hits and stop baserunners from taking extra bases. Betts runs saved are crucial in one run games, sometimes providing the margin of victory with not only his bat but his glove too.
An MVP season last year has been followed up by a season that projects similar numbers than the one Betts put up last year. At such a young age with such a small contract, Betts value is through the roof. Day in and day out the Red Sox are given spectacular talent that helps them win games and although Sale may be a close second, Mookie Betts is the most valuable player on the team.