Is Mookie Betts the best player in baseball?

Image courtesy of: Curtis Compton/AP

Mookie Betts has been big-time this postseason.  He’s hit over .300, has an on-base percentage of over .400, made some incredible defensive plays, and had a big homer in Game One of the World Series.  Betts already has a ring from the 2018 Boston Red Sox, 4 Gold Gloves, 3 Silver Sluggers, a batting title, and one AL MVP award.  He’s solidified himself as one of the top players in baseball.  But is it time to call him the best player in baseball?

HECK…no.  This is a clear example of being caught up in the moment.  Yes, Mookie has accomplished so much to this point in his age-28 season, and may just be entering his prime, but we know who’s the best player in the sport.

Image courtesy of: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

This man is and has been the best player in the Majors for some time now.  Mike Trout.  3 MVP’s, 7 Silver-Sluggers, 8 All-Star appearances, has led the league in OPS+ 6 times…just to name a few of Trout’s feats to this point in his career.  By the way, he’s only 29.  He might just be one of the best to ever do it if he continues to put up these offensive numbers during his prime years and into his thirties.

Standard Batting
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
201119LAAAL4013512320276051640930.220.281.390.672894822010897/HD
201220LAAAL139639559129182278308349567139.326.399.564.96316831576074*87/9HAS,MVP-2,RoY-1,SS
201321LAAAL1577165891091903992797337110136.323.432.557.988179328890810*87/DAS,MVP-2,SS
201422LAAAL1577056021151733993611116283184.287.377.561.9391693386100106*8/DAS,MVP-1,SS
201523LAAAL159682575104172326419011792158.299.402.590.99117633911100514*8/DAS,MVP-2,SS
201624LAAAL15968154912317332529100307116137.315.441.550.9911733025110512*8D/HAS,MVP-1,SS
201725LAAAL1145074029212325333722249490.306.442.6291.0711862538704158/DAS,MVP-4
201826LAAAL1406084711011472443979242122124.312.460.6281.0881982965100425*8D/HAS,MVP-2,SS
201927LAAAL13460047011013727245104112110120.291.438.6451.0831823035160414*8D/HAS,MVP-1,SS
202028LAAAL532411994156921746113556.281.390.603.99316812013044*8/D
10 Yrs125255144539944138026048302798201378381174.304.418.5821.00017626425884052104
162 Game Avg.16271358712217934639103265108152.304.418.5821.0001763428110713
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/24/2020.

And, just look at the power numbers from Trout.  He’s such a pure hitter, but he’s also one of the best power hitters in the league.  He’s coming off of a career-high 45 home run season in 2019 and has four seasons of 35+ homers.  Mookie’s career high is 32.  Not bad, but you see the separation.

Standard Batting
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
201421BOSAL522131893455121518732131.291.368.444.8121268422100849/H
201522BOSAL1456545979217442818772164682.291.341.479.82011728622361*89/HDMVP-19
201623BOSAL158730672122214425311132644980.318.363.534.897133359122071*9/HAS,MVP-2,GG,SS
201724BOSAL153712628101166462241022637779.264.344.459.80310828892059*9AS,MVP-6,GG
201825BOSAL13661452012918047532803068191.346.438.6401.07818633358058*98/HD4AS,MVP-1,GG,SS
201926BOSAL150706597135176405298016397101.295.391.524.915135313113096*98/DHAS,MVP-8,GG,SS
202027LADNL5524621947649116391022438.292.366.562.92714912322011*9/D48
7 Yrs8493875342266010292382715550913627395502.301.373.522.8951351786432143326
162 Game Avg.16273965312619645530972657596.301.373.522.89513534184165
BOS (6 yrs)794362932036139652292613947012625371464.301.374.519.8931341663411943225
LAD (1 yr)5524621947649116391022438.292.366.562.92714912322011
AL (6 yrs)794362932036139652292613947012625371464.301.374.519.8931341663411943225
NL (1 yr)5524621947649116391022438.292.366.562.92714912322011
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/24/2020.

The only category I give an edge to Mookie, would be fielding.  He has 4 Gold Gloves, and is probably closing in on his fifth being announced as a finalist this past week.  On the other hand, statistically speaking, Trout hasn’t been one of the better defensively Center Fielders.  He’s made some incredible plays & catches throughout the course of his career, but the stats haven’t been so friendly to him.  According to Statcast’s Outs Above Average Leaderboard, he ranked 26th of 39 Center Fielders in Baseball.  His best year in this category came in 2018, where ranked 14th.  Mookie is clearly the better fielder.

Being great defensively at your position is important, but I’m taking what Trout has done year-in and year-out at the plate.  I mean c’mon the man is on track to be better than the great Mickey Mantle.

Trout has only been to the postseason once, when the Angels lost to the Royals in the Divisional Series in 2014.  He has only played in three playoff games through his first nine full seasons of his career.  Whereas Betts has already been to the playoffs four times.  Baseball isn’t like basketball, where an NBA team might only need one or two superstars to be a contender.  To be a playoff team in the Majors it takes an overall good lineup, manager, starting pitching, bullpen, and sprinkle in some solid defense.  Mike Trout has always been the best player in the league in a franchise that hasn’t built much around him.  Resulting in one playoff appearance since he’s been in Anaheim.

Mookie Betts is one of the most exciting players to watch in Major League Baseball, on a really good Dodgers team.  But, let’s not be prisoners of the moment.  Mike Trout is still the best player in baseball.

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