Should Betts or Martinez Win American League MVP?
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The Boston Red Sox are having a historic season as they sit 50 games above .500 with an 85-35 record.
A lot of this success can be credited to J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts, who make up 64 of the team’s 166 home runs. Both are contenders for the American League MVP award, but who has the best chance of being MVP?
Betts has been seen as an MVP candidate since the start of this season, and for a good reason. His batting average jumped above .300 in early April and has yet to fall back down since. Betts leads the Majors in batting average while slashing an incredible .350/.438/.668. He has the second highest home run total of his career with 27 home runs but is struggling to drive in runs, with 62 RBIs. Betts’s 23 stolen bases give him his third consecutive 20-20 season.
The 25-year-old has had many career firsts this season as well. On July 28, Betts hit his first career walk-off home run against the Minnesota Twins in the 10th inning. On the Aug. 10 game against the Toronto Blue Jays Betts became the first player to hit for the cycle in the 2018 MLB season. This was the first time a Red Sox batter hit for the cycle since Brock Holt did on June 16 of 2015. Betts also played his third consecutive All-Star Game on July 17.
Betts has had such a good season that he is beginning to show statistics that rival the great Ted Williams. He’s already surpassed Williams for most three-home-run games with the Red Sox and he will most likely end the season with three consecutive seasons of 100 runs scored before turning 26. This feat was last accomplished with the Red Sox by none other than Williams in 1941.
However, Martinez also is in the midst of what could be his best season yet. Not only did Martinez make the second All-Star Game of his career, he leads the Major Leagues in many categories. Martinez leads the Majors in home runs with 37, RBIs with 104, slugging percentage, and total bases with 287 while tied for the Major League lead in hits. He is slashing .333/.401/.669 and his average is the second highest in the Majors while his OPS is the third in the majors.
Martinez is having one of the debut seasons with the Red Sox. of all time He became the first batter to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs in their first season with the Red Sox since David Ortiz in 2003. He also hit 25 home runs before the end of June, a new Red Sox record.
While Martinez does not have the speed or fielding that Betts has, the biggest factor for Martinez being MVP would be the triple crown. The last person to win the triple crown was Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers in 2012 and the last person to win it before he did was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Since Martinez is already leading the Majors in home runs and RBIs, he would need to maintain the lead in those categories while also surpassing Betts in batting average in order to win the triple crown.
The question of who should win MVP over the other is tough, as both players have set franchise records this season. I believe it is too early to give a definitive answer to who should win. While both players are playing great it’s still possible that one of them goes on a long cold streak or loses time to injury.
However, if both Betts and Martinez continue to play at the same level, I believe the MVP award should go to Betts. Maintaining a high batting average is tough, and if Betts is still batting close to .350 by the end of the season, he deserves to be recognized for it. It’s not every day that you can compare a player to Ted Williams, but with the .350 batting average and almost 30 home runs, the comparisons aren’t far off.