|Boston Red Sox – No. 50|
|Right fielder/Center fielder|
Born: October 7, 1992|
|June 29, 2014, for the Boston Red Sox|
|MLB statistics |
(through July 12, 2018)
|Runs batted in||359|
|Career highlights and awards|
Markus Lynn "Mookie" Betts (born October 7, 1992) is an American professional baseball outfielder for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). He stands 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall and weighs 180 pounds (82 kg). He bats and throws right handed.
Betts was drafted by the Red Sox in 2011, and made his MLB debut in the 2014 season, sharing time between second base and the outfield. He became the Red Sox starting center fielder in 2014, before moving to right field in 2016.
Betts is also a professional bowler for Professional Bowlers Association (PBA).
High school career
Betts attended John Overton High School in Nashville, Tennessee, playing second base, shortstop and outfield. In 2011, his senior year, he batted .508 with 30 steals and was an honorable mention inclusion for the Louisville Slugger High School All-American list.
In 2010, his junior year at Overton, Betts batted .548 with 24 steals. In November that year, Betts signed a letter of commitment to attend the University of Tennessee on a baseball scholarship, also getting recruited by Vanderbilt University, Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
At Overton, Betts was also a standout basketball player, named MVP of the District 12-AAA league his senior season while averaging 14.1 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals per game; and also named Class AAA All-City Player of the Year for the Nashville, Tennessee metropolitan area. His junior year, Betts was named MVP of the District 12-AAA tournament. Betts also excelled in bowling, named the Tennessee boys Bowler of the Year in 2010 with a high score of 290. He grew up bowling at the Donelson Strike and Spare in Donelson, TN.
Draft and minor leagues
The Boston Red Sox selected Betts in the 5th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft with the 172nd overall pick. After protracted negotiations, Betts subsequently rescinded his commitment to the University of Tennessee, signing a $750,000 contract with the Red Sox organization. Betts played two games in 2011 for the GCL Red Sox of the rookie Gulf Coast League, getting two hits in four at bats. In 2012, he batted .267 and stole 20 bases in 71 games for the short season Lowell Spinners of the New York–Penn League. He played shortstop regularly, but looked more comfortable[to whom?] at second base.
Betts started the 2013 season with the Greenville Drive of the Low A South Atlantic League. In 76 games, Betts batted .296 with a 19-game hitting streak and was selected to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
On July 9, Betts was promoted to the Salem Red Sox of the High A Carolina League, batting .341 in 51 games to complete the 2013 season with a combined .314 average in 127 games between Greenville and Salem with 15 home runs and 38 steals. Betts was named Offensive Player of the Year and Breakout Player of the Year in the Boston minor league system, leading all Sox minors players with a .506 slugging percentage, while his .314 batting average ranked him third behind Alex Hassan (.338) and Garin Cecchini (.322). Betts was a second-team inclusion on the Baseball America Minor League All-Star Team for 2013, with the first-team selection for second base going to Marcus Semien, an infielder for the Chicago White Sox. Betts subsequently played 16 games for the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League, batting .271.
Betts opened the 2014 season with the Portland Sea Dogs of the Double-A Eastern League, batting .355 in 54 games to lead the Eastern League through June 2. On June 3, Betts was promoted to the Pawtucket Red Sox of the Triple-A International League, batting .322 and reaching base in all 23 games with the PawSox.
In 2013 and 2014, Betts reached base in 66 straight regular-season games plus five playoff games for a combined streak of 71 games. Because official baseball streak records do not include playoff games, Betts's streak has been listed at 66 games; Kevin Millar and Kevin Youkilis hold the official minor league record for consecutive games reaching base, at 71 games, with Minor League Baseball lacking data on the statistic prior to 1997.
Since mid-May 2014, Betts has played outfield in addition to second base. In 2013, four-time All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia signed an eight-year, $110 million contract extension with the Red Sox, leading to speculation that the Red Sox would groom Betts for a new position.
Boston Red Sox
Betts made his debut on June 29, recording his first major league career hit against Yankees starter Chase Whitley in the fourth inning. He hit his first home run on July 2 off the Cubs' Carlos Villanueva. He then was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on July 19 when Shane Victorino was activated from the disabled list, and was recalled to Boston on August 1. Betts was optioned back to Pawtucket in August, and recalled again on August 18.
On August 29, Betts hit his first career grand slam against Rays pitcher Chris Archer in a Red Sox victory at Tropicana Field. At age 21, Betts became the youngest Sox player to hit a grand slam in 49 years Betts spent most of the 2014 season playing in the outfield, but on September 11, manager John Farrell announced that Betts would play second base "fairly regularly" following injuries to regular second basemen Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt.
Betts split the 2014 season fairly evenly between AA, AAA and MLB, playing 52 major league games. He performed well for the Red Sox, hitting .291 with five home runs; and played over half his innings in center field.
On April 6, 2015, Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox against the Philadelphia Phillies, he hit a home run in his second at bat, becoming the third youngest player to hit a home run on Opening Day for the Red Sox. On April 13, 2015, in the home opener at Fenway Park against the Washington Nationals, Betts arguably had the most exciting performance of his career. He robbed Bryce Harper of a home run, stole two bases on one play and hit a home run into the Monster seats, all in the first three innings.
Betts was named the AL Player of the Week for the week ending on June 21, 2015. Within that week, Betts batted .581 (18 for 31) with two home runs, two triples, three doubles, seven RBI and eight runs. He led the AL in batting average, hits, on-base percentage (.594), total bases (31), and slugging percentage (1.000) that week. In the latter part of the season, he spent some time in right field, leading to speculation that he would move there permanently to allow teammate Jackie Bradley, Jr., to take over in center field. Betts ended the 2015 season with a .291 batting average, with 92 runs scored, 77 RBIs, 18 home runs, and 21 stolen bases.
Betts was selected to the 2016 MLB All-Star Game, the first of his career. He started in right field and was 1-for-2 with a single, and a run scored. Betts was named the AL Player of the Month for July, when he batted .368 (35-for-95) with five home runs, 15 RBIs, five stolen bases and a 1.068 OPS in 23 games. On September 20, Betts became the first player to reach 200 hits during the 2016 MLB season. In 158 games played, Betts finished the season with a .318 batting average, 214 hits, 122 runs scored, 42 doubles, 31 home runs, 113 RBI, and an MLB-leading 359 total bases.
With the Red Sox finishing the season 93–69, the team clinched the AL East Division, but succumbed to a 3-game sweep by the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 ALDS. Wilson Sporting Goods named Betts its Defensive Player of the Year at right field and overall among all major league fielders. After the season, Betts was named a finalist for the American League MVP Award, alongside Mike Trout and José Altuve. He finished as the runner-up to Trout.
From September 12, 2016 through to April 19, 2017, Betts maintained a streak of 129 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout. The streak ended when Francisco Liriano of the Toronto Blue Jays struck him out. In a regular season game at Toronto, He tied an MLB record when he recorded 8 RBIs from the leadoff slot in a 15–1 rout of the Blue Jays on July 2, 2017. He was granted his second American League All-Star Game selection on the same day. Originally chosen as a reserve, on July 3 Betts was announced as the starter in place of Mike Trout who was out due to surgery on his thumb.
Betts ended the season with a .264 batting average, 101 runs scored, 26 stolen bases, 24 home runs and 102 RBIs. Betts led the Red Sox in each of those categories except batting average, as he batted just .236 from the All-Star break through September 4. Despite his solid stats on the season, Betts was criticized for his inability to turn balls in play into hits. His batting average on balls in play fell 54 points from its 2016 level, to .268. He won his second consecutive Golden Glove Award this season.
On April 17, 2018, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe published a column titled, "Mookie Betts or Mike Trout: Who gets the nod?" in which he compared Betts to Mike Trout, a two-time MVP widely considered the best player in baseball. Of the 10 professional evaluators Cafardo asked, seven chose Trout and three chose Betts. "To be in the same conversation as a great player like that is an honor," Betts said. That same night, Betts hit three home runs to lead the Red Sox to a 10–1 win over Trout's Los Angeles Angels. It was the third three-homer game of his career, tying him with Ted Williams for the most in Red Sox history. Betts broke the tie with Williams and set the franchise record on May 2, hitting three home runs in a 5–4 win over the Kansas City Royals. He became the first player in MLB history to produce four three-homer games before the age of 26.
By May 21, Betts had amassed a major league-leading 15 home runs. He led MLB in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, total bases, extra-base hits, doubles, runs scored, runs created, and OPS+. He led Boston with 11 stolen bases, good for third in MLB. His 3.8 WAR (as calculated by Baseball-Reference.com) was second only to Trout in the majors. His offensive success was a major factor in the Red Sox’ 32–15 start. On June 1, Betts was placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to May 29, with a left abdominal strain; he returned to the active roster on June 11. On July 6, Betts hit his 22nd home run of the season, the 100th of his MLB career. He became the fourth Red Sox player to hit 100 home runs before turning 26, the others being Tony Conigliaro, Jim Rice, and Ted Williams. On July 8, while batting .343 with 22 home runs and 44 RBIs, Betts was named to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game as an American League starting outfielder. On July 12, Betts hit a grand slam off Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J. A. Happ in a 13 pitch at bat.
Betts is an avid bowler; he bowled throughout his youth and competed in the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) World Series of Bowling in Reno, Nevada, in 2015, and again in 2017. He has bowled three perfect games, on January 27, 2013, February 2, 2016, and November 12, 2017. His highest game in PBA competition is a 300 game during the World Series of Bowling on November 12, 2017.
Although it has been reported that Betts is a nephew of Terry Shumpert, who played parts of 14 seasons with several MLB teams, they are actually first cousins once removed, as Shumpert is a first cousin to Betts' mother, Diana. In 2004, Shumpert spent his final season of professional baseball with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds and worked extensively with Betts.
Betts' first Little League Baseball coach was his mother, Diana, who is also an avid bowler and taught Mookie to bowl at an early age. Betts was named the Tennessee boys Bowler of the Year in 2010, having set Tennessee high school records that season with a 290 game and an 827 three-game series. He has rolled three sanctioned 300 games and has averaged over 200 in league competition. In the 2015 offseason, Betts entered the Professional Bowlers Association's GEICO World Series of Bowling VII, being held in Reno, Nevada. In 2017 he also competed in the event.
Betts's parents chose his name in part to form the initials MLB, matching those of Major League Baseball. He has attributed his nickname Mookie to his parents watching former NBA guard Mookie Blaylock play basketball shortly after Betts was born. Betts has stated that he has never met Blaylock.
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