Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts has started off the 2018 season by posting an fWAR of 3.1 through the first month of the season. The 25-year old has been so successful because he’s been tearing the cover off the ball.
Betts has hit .362/.439/.766 which has led to a wRC+ of 213 through 164 plate appearances. The majority of times he’s reached base have been thanks to extra bases (his wOBA is .493) which has fueled has obscenely high slugging percentage. His power has come from a career high hard hit rate of 46.8%, which has come from a bunch of pitches near his belt.
It’s hard not to crush the ball consistently when you’re seeing pitches in the middle of the plate; currently his soft hit rate is at a paltry 12.1%…a career low by over a full percentage point.
This high hard hit rate has led to a slightly above average BABIP of .342, which has fueled some of his offensive success thus far. Especially since it’s likely that pitchers are going to shift their game plans against Betts because what they’re currently trying against him is only fueling his offensive success. Which isn’t going to be easy, because the 25-year old is really good at waiting for a good pitch to hit.
The fifth-year veteran is swinging at only 19.9% of pitches out side of the strike zone and he’s making contact on 68% of those swings. Even missing pitches inside the zone when he swings at them (it’s a swinging rate of 5%). That makes Betts a tough man to pitch to.
Don’t be shocked if his hard hit rate and BABIP regress throughout the season, but Betts is still going to be one of the best hitters in the game this season.
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