(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

At 25, Mookie Betts Has Already Put Himself in Rare Company in Red Sox History

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

At the age of 25, Mookie Betts has already established himself as one of the most talented all-around players in the history of the Red Sox.

It's not too early to say that. They've never had a player quite like him.

The Red Sox have had some of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball, but they’ve had precious few players with Betts’ skillset. The list of true five-tool players that have donned a Red Sox uniform is a short one.

He is already one of the most dynamic players ever to play in Boston.

Betts is only the second player in team history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season. Jacoby Ellsbury, who somehow, someway, hit 32 home runs in 2011, is the only other player to accomplish that feat in Boston.

Betts is a far more complete player than Ellsbury ever was.

Mookie also became the 40th player in Major League history to go 30-30, and joined Mike Trout as the only two players to do it in 140 games or less.

That is some elite company.

Jul 12, 2018; Boston, MA: Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts reacts after hitting a grand slam against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth inning at Fenway Park. (Photo Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Jul 12, 2018; Boston, MA: Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts reacts after hitting a grand slam against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth inning at Fenway Park. (Photo Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s hard to remember the Red Sox having a leadoff hitter as good as Mookie. He joined a young Nomar Garciaparra as the only players in team history to hit 30 home runs as a leadoff man.

Perhaps Nomar is the only position player in recent Red Sox history comparable to Betts. Young Nomar was just as dynamic and well rounded offensively as Betts, but the speed left Garciaparra’s game quickly as he became a great pure hitter in his prime.

Not to mention that Betts is a better defender at his position than Nomar ever was at short.

If Dwight Evans set the gold standard for playing right field at Fenway Park, then Betts has come the closest to matching it. He is the best defender the team has had in right since Dewey and will join Evans and Fred Lynn as the only players in franchise history to win three-straight gold gloves when he cruises to another gold glove this offseason.

Lynn was a very good all-around player, but never had the speed or power that Betts has shown. Lynn only had one season of 30 home runs or more when he hit 39 in 1979. Betts already has two in four years. Unlike Mookie, Lynn was never a base-stealing threat, his career-high was 14 and only had double-digit steals three times in his 17-year career.

How far back in Red Sox history do you have to go to find a comparable player to Betts?

Carl Yastrzemski is easily one of the best hitters in team history, but his all-around play in his prime goes under-appreciated. Yaz won seven gold gloves and had six seasons of double-digit stolen bases.

But despite the numbers, it doesn’t feel right to compare Betts and Yaz. They seem like entirely different players.

Is it possible that Mookie is the best five-tool player the Red Sox have had since Tris Speaker?

When I find someone who saw both Betts’ 2018 soon-to-be MVP campaign and Speaker’s 1912 MVP season, I’ll let you know.

Where Betts eventually lands on the list of all-time greats in Red Sox history won't be determined for years to come, but it's only taken four years for him to prove that few players who have ever played baseball in this town have a skillset comparable to his.

He might even be incomparable.

Given the great players who have worn a Red Sox uniform over the last 118 years, that’s saying something.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub's own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.