Here's why Red Sox star Mookie Betts striking out on Wednesday is a big deal
No matter how hard pitchers try, it was proving impossible to strike Betts out, until Wednesday at least
Strikeouts are bad, but for Betts, they are extremely rare. When Blue Jays starter Francisco Liriano struck the Red Sox star out on Wednesday, it was Betts' first strikeout in 129 regular season plate appearances dating back to last September. One hundred twenty-nine! That was the longest such streak in baseball since contact/speed machine Juan Pierre more than a decade ago.
The last Red Sox player to go that long between strikeouts was Denny Doyle. He went 159 plate appearances between whiffs back in 1975.
Betts went into Wednesday's game with 50 plate appearances on the season and zero strikeouts. The second most plate appearances this year with zero strikeouts is 14 by Seattle Mariners outfielder Guillermo Heredia. Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is third with nine, hilariously enough.
Last season Betts struck out in only 11 percent of his plate appearances en route to being named AL MVP runner-up, which is remarkable. The league average strikeout rate was 21.1 percent in 2016. When you make that much contact while hitting for that much power, you get -- well, you get an MVP candidate. Betts will be one again this season.
The no-strikeout streak spanned 29 games, and during that time Betts has hit .360/.425/.456 with five doubles and two home runs. For what it's worth, Betts didn't find his no-strikeout streak all that impressive:
For the sake of accuracy, I will note Betts did indeed strike out during the ALDS last year. He struck out once, exactly, in 12 plate appearances against the Cleveland Indians. The streak covered the regular season only.