The 24-year-old with the slight frame slashed .318/.363/.534/.897 last season -- all career highs -- and cleared the 30-homer mark for the first time in his career. He finished four steals shy of being a 30-30 player, a mark he's likely to threaten in 2017. Mookie Betts collected many accolades as a result -- second in the MVP voting, a first-time All-Star, a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. The forecasts for Betts had him hitting for power, but 31 homers was not in the tarot cards. Unlike his previous season, there were no down periods; Betts hit .266 in April and warmed up as the weather did, hitting .368 in July and .378 in August. It was during those warm-weather months that manager John Farrell dropped him from leadoff to third and fourth in the order, where his bat drove in 39 runs in 48 games. The Red Sox will miss David Ortiz, but Betts has emerged as an unlikely middle-of-the-order presence.
Betts went 0-for-3 with a strikeout while batting cleanup for Boston in Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay. Until the midway point of 2016, Betts had been one of the baseball's most dangerous leadoff hitters, but then was dropped to third and delivered an impact, run-producing bat. He's now firmly a middle-of-the-order bat in Boston's lineup and is being considered for cleanup duty this season. The primary driver for that is to break up what is expected to be a righty-heavy upper portion of the batting order by sliding the left-handed Andrew Benintendi into the three-hole. Lineup-construction theories abound, but the chance that Betts doesn't get a first-inning at-bat shouldn't weigh too heavy. When he does get to the plate in the first inning, which may be often given the caliber of hitter batting in front of him, there will be men on base.
Betts (knee) said Thursday that he will have face any restrictions at the start of spring training, Josh Brogadir of WCVB-TV Boston reports. Although not entirely unexpected, this is good news for Betts, who was runner-up for AL MVP with his monstrous year. He battled knee soreness for the second half of last season and still slashed .338/.388/.547 with 13 homers after the break, so it will be exciting to see what a healthy Betts can do in 2017.
Betts, who underwent arthroscopic right knee surgery Thursday, is expected to be fully recovered by the start of spring training, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports. He had an arthroscopy, a chondroplasty, and a loose body removal, but while it sounds somewhat serious, it is fairly common offseason maintenance and should not affect his ability to put forth another monster season in 2017.
Betts had an arthroscopy, a chondroplasty, and a loose body removal performed on his right knee Thursday, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports. The list of operations makes it seem like Betts is getting an entirely new knee, but fortunately for the highly-acclaimed outfielder, all three of these are relatively minor procedures. This development is not expected to hinder the All-Star's ability to be ready for spring training.
Betts went 3-for-5 with two runs scored in Tuesday's 5-2 win at Baltimore. Betts did what he's been doing from the top of the Red Sox order all season, getting on base often and scoring runs at a high clip. He has now crossed the 200-hit threshold with 201, and leads the league with 115 runs scored. At just 23 years of age, Betts promises to be one of the most productive hitters in baseball for years to come.