It wasn't that long ago when then 2nd basemen Mookie Betts was considered "the most blocked" prospect in all of baseball. The Red Sox were just coming off their 2013 World Series win, with one of the hottest prospects in all of baseball,,,, with nowhere to play.
With the gift of hindsight, this article from 2014 seems nearly impossible to believe, looks ridiculous now with the names considered to be "above" Mookie at the time.
Boston's farm system and the prospects therein have received its fair share of accolades these past few months, but here's a new one for you: Mookie Betts is baseball's most-blocked prospect, at least according to Keith Law.
What does it mean to be blocked? It's not as simple as having a veteran position player in your way. At least not for the players on Law's list. No, we're talking degrees of being blocked here, and Law points out that there's pretty much nowhere to put a guy like Mookie, at least not without forcing other pieces to move. Second base is right out for obvious reasons. Can he move to shortstop? But then what about Xander? Third? Cecchini and Middlebrooks are already anticipating their own jam over there. Center? Jackie Bradley Jr.
Mother fucking Will Middlebrooks and Garin Cecchini in the same class as Mookie Betts.. Insane. That's like saying candy corn is better than Reeses. *pats self on the back for shitty halloween candy analogy* (and if you're one of those pyshcos who likes Candy Corn you can stop reading...don't really, I need the clicks) Middlebrooks was gone after 2014 and has like 45 minutes in the bigs since he left Boston.
What's the scariest part of this article is this:
"It's hard to find a scenario in which they all play for the Red Sox without deleting someone from the roster due to trade or injury. Betts is seemingly the most likely to be traded of all the names here."
Omg is that not the grossest thing you've seen today? Thank God this is just from a Red Sox blog recapping an ESPN article, but good God, man. Had the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts because of Garin Cecchini (who's played a whopping 14 games in the big leagues) I for sure would be dead right now. It'd be the Babe Ruth trade only worse, because at least the Red Sox got to win a few World Series with Ruth first.
Now this blog isn't to go all @oldtakesexposed on this post, but more so to talk about the versatility of Mookie Betts and the decisions Alex Cora will need to make at Dodger Stadium for games 3-5 of the 2018 fall classic.
In case you've been under a rock, in the National League ballpark the Red Sox will lose DH. meaning J.D. Martinez is gonna have to move to OF. Leaving 4 men for 3 outfield jobs. Alex Cora (on paper) will need to decide to not play either Andrew Beintendi or ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley, Jr. because the only way Mookie Betts is coming out of the line-up is if he's dead, or Cora wants to pull a 1919 Black Sox.
The big topic of discussion this week in sports has been should the Red Sox move Mookie Betts back to his natural 2nd base for games 3-5 in Los Angeles so the Red Sox can keep Benny, and JBJ both in the line-up? Given the lack of production (outside of Brock Holt's cycle) the Red Sox have gotten offensively from 2B this October it's very intriguing scenario.
I am not against the move, I think it's daring, and aggressive. It's a move that personally, I love to see (even hypothetically) from my manager; that he's willing to think outside the box, and channel 1968 Mayo Smith to win a championship. Like the 2nd worst band in music, Imagine Dragons says, "do whatever it takes". This wouldn't quite by Mickey Stanley to SS in the 1968 World Series, considering Betts is a natural 2nd basemen, but I still think it's not a risk the Red Sox have to necessarily take.
Let's talk facts for a second: Mookie Betts is the best RF in all of baseball.
The eye test tells me Mookie is the best, but the stats also back him up as well. Look at all the uber-fancy, sabermetrics, Mookie is at the top, or near top in nearly all of them. He's won the last 2 American League RF gold gloves, and is a shoe-in for 3rd this year. While Gold Gloves are nice, they are also a popularity contest (looking at you, Jeter). From www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2018/10/22/red-sox-mookie-betts-second-base/1733048002/
Betts has led all qualified big-league outfielders in UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) in each of the last three seasons. Somewhat amazingly, he is the top rated outfielder over that span in all three components of the stat: He has the best arm, most range, and surest hands.
I understand why the home run that was ruled an out from game 4 was so controversial. But I'm sorry, that's a catch Mookie Betts makes. I'd say he makes that catch greater than 80% of the time. That's why to me it was an easy decision to make. It was interference. I know this isn't how the rule is interpreted, but maybe it's how it should be. If Nick Swisher is playing right, that's a homer, if Melky Cabrera is playing right, that's a homer. Mookie showed us the very next night that he can make that catch.
Here's another fact: Jackie Bradley, Jr is a career .238 hitter.
Look I am the biggest Jackie Bradley, Jr fan around, I've called into WEEI defending him recapping-my-experience-on-weei.html. I was ecstatic to see him win ALCS MVP. I think he's the best defensive CF in baseball, I am a Jackie Bradley, Jr guy.
The reason Jackie Bradley, Jr is still so valuable despite his streakiness, and frankly overall under-performance (for his career) at the plate is for his glove and run-prevention. I've blogged about him many times, I don't need to add the videos of his highlights, but I will anyway.
Run-prevention is nearly as important as scoring itself.
Which is exactly why I am not loving the idea of moving Mookie Betts to 2nd base.
As stated earlier, Mookie Betts is the best defensive (and also overall) RF in baseball. We saw the stat. So we're gonna make our outfield defense worse by getting rid of him, and likely making the infield defense worse too? Now here is when I do my whole no real evidence, just go from the heart blogger thing, but despite being a phenomal athlete would this be asking too much of Mookie Betts? I could be completely wrong here, but even after playing 2nd his whole life until a few years ago, Mookie hasn't been an everyday 2nd basemen at any level since 2014. A lot can change in 4 years, for example, in that same time frame Mookie Betts became a 2x Gold Glove winner and arguably the best player in baseball not named after a fish. No turning-two, no sliding infield stops, no playing 2nd base (except for 6 innings in an emergency role earlier this year) for four years. Kids went through HS w/o seeing Mookie Betts play 2nd base.
Yes, Ian Kinsler has left more to be desired this October at 2nd, and despite being a fan favorite, and producing all season long, Brock Holt has had a hard time sniffing the field. But is Mookie Betts better at 2nd for you defensively than they are? I don't know. I'd probably rather have Brock Holt playing offensively than Jackie if I got to pick between the two. I think defensive JBJ and Mookie are pretty close to the same guy so it's kind of a wash there. But, regardless, is it worth making your defense (i.e. run prevention) worse in both the outfield and infield by moving Mookie from RF to 2nd? This isn't as simple as just saying. Okay Mookie today you're back where it all began. It's all about how well Mookie can play 2nd. He's a freak athlete and believe in him 100% If this was a move happening for 2019 I think he'd be able to do it no problem. I just wonder if this is too quick of a turnaround? I never played baseball, so I could be wrong, but is playing 2nd base like riding a bike? I would think not.
The outfield is going to be impacted one way or another, JD Martinez is going to play. He's not a complete liability like some 2015 Kyle Schwarber, but he's no Mookie Betts and the combo of Benny, JBJ and Mookie have been three vacuums in the OF, sucking up everything. I honestly don't know what the right move is here. and I don't envy the position Cora is in. I just feel like it'd be better to go Benny, Mookie, JD in the OF in whichever positioning they feel best over Benny, JBJ, JD with Mookie playing 2nd for the first time that actually matters in 4 years in the God Damn World Series?
I also think the series and match-ups are indicative of what happens. Where is the series when it goes west? Were we up 2-0? Split....god-forbid down 0-2. All that matters, as well as how dudes are performing. If JBJ is 0-7 with a walk and 5 Ks I don't think it's smart to move Mookie to infield to have him start. Yeah it's sorta unfair, given the small sample size and that one of the games is against Clayton Kershaw, but I'd be a lot cooler with having Mookie start at 2nd for the first time since 2014 up 2-0 than down 0-2. Kind of an obvious take, but one that I felt needed to be said.
Like I said, I love JBJ, but he had 3 hits in the ALCS. Yes, they were huge, clutch, game winning hits, and we all know his defense. But let's not act like he turned into Barry Bonds overnight. Back in the 2007 ALCS Kevin Youkilis batted fucking .500 (14-28) with 3 HR (and should've been CO-MVPs with Beckett), but was benched in the World Series for David Ortiz when the series shifted to Denver. In the snowflake age of CO-MVP's (2 of the last 3 NLCS have had co-MVP) if there was ever a time to give them, Youk sure as shit earned a share of one in 07. They took their hottest bat out of the line-up to keep David Ortiz in it. Youk was versatile too. He could've played 3rd, but Mike Lowell was busy winning WS MVP.
Anyways, my point is that if the Red Sox were willing to bench Youk who hit fucking .500 in the ALCS so a better player could play, I think the same should go for JBJ here.
It's just so crazy to me how fast life can go. A few months ago people were calling for Jackie to be traded, and now people want Mookie to play 2nd base in the World Series so they can keep his "hot" bat in the line-up. Life comes at you fast. Whatever happens, I'll be watching every pitch on pins and needles. Cora has pressed all the right buttons this October, so whatever he does with Betts will likely be the right move. Ideally if he does I'd imagine with a lead you'd take J.D. out and move Mookie back to the OF late in the game should Mookie start at 2B. Idk, dude. I'm just a nervous wreck, Boston sports fan who wanted to write about this topic and needs to get discovered.
The whole I don't want Mookie playing 2nd because of Machado take is a lazy one. Yeah, I'm worried about that dirty, lazy, scumbag going after Mookie too, but that would mean Machado would have to be getting to 2nd base. Something I don't plan on happening much this series.