BOSTON – (Staff Report From Official News Release) – Mookie Betts was named the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Betts received 28 of 30 first-place votes, as well as two second-place votes for a total of 410 points. He finished ahead of Mike Trout (265 points), José Ramírez (208), and J.D. Martinez (198).
Betts’ honor marks the 12th time a Red Sox player has been named MVP, as Betts is the 11th individual in franchise history to earn the honor. Past winners include Dustin Pedroia (2008), Mo Vaughn (1995), Roger Clemens (1986), Jim Rice (1978), Fred Lynn (1975), Carl Yastrzemski (1967), Jackie Jensen (1958), Ted Williams (1946, ’49), Jimmie Foxx (1938), and Tris Speaker (1912). Betts and Jensen are the only Red Sox right fielders ever to win the MVP award.
“It means a lot,” Betts said on MLB Network of winning his first MVP honor. “It’s definitely a special award. Something I’ll cherish. The most important thing is we won a World Series and got to bring a trophy back to Boston.”
He spoke while holding his 9-day-old daughter, Kinley, who slept through the cheering that went up when Betts’ name was announced as the winner. The baby’s birth came days after the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games to win the World Series.
“It’s been a pretty good 2018,” he said. “I’ll enjoy these moments while I can. In 2019, hopefully we can make it better.”
Betts, who turned 26 years old on October 7, is the 10th AL player to be named MVP in a season in which he also won Rawlings Gold Glove and Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards, and is the first to do so since Joe Mauer in 2009. Betts is the first AL player ever to earn each of those three honors and win a World Series title in the same season, joining Mike Schmidt (1980) as the only major leaguers ever to accomplish the feat. In addition, Betts earned the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award for right field on November 7, and was named the MLBPAA’s 14th annual Overall Heart and Hustle Award winner on November 8.
According to Baseball-Reference, Betts led the majors with 10.9 wins above replacement (WAR), the highest mark for any position player since Barry Bonds’ 2002 MVP season (11.8). It was also tied with Ted Williams’ 1946 season for the second-highest WAR ever recorded by a Red Sox player, trailing only Carl Yastrzemski’s 1967 Triple Crown campaign (12.5). The only major leaguers to record a higher WAR in a season prior to turning 26 years old are Babe Ruth (11.9 in 1920), Lou Gehrig (11.8 in 1927), and Mickey Mantle (11.3 in 1956 and 1957).
In 2018, Betts led the majors in batting average (.346; 180-for-520) and slugging percentage (.640), becoming the first Red Sox player to accomplish that feat since Ted Williams in 1957. Betts added 42 doubles, five triples, 32 home runs, 129 runs scored, 80 RBI, and 30 steals, as he ranked second in MLB in on-base percentage (.438), OPS (1.078), and extra-base hits (84). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the only player ever to win a batting title in either league during a season in which he also recorded at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Betts was the only AL player in 2018 to hit for the cycle—a feat he accomplished on August 9 at Toronto—and was the only major leaguer hit three home runs in a game multiple times.
In his final 25 games of the 2018 regular season, Betts scored 25 runs and hit .405 (34-for-84) with a .514 on-base percentage. He homered in three consecutive games from September 20-24, going 4-for-5 with five RBI in the Red Sox’ division-clinching win over the New York Yankees on September 20. Betts scored 13 runs in 14 postseason games, homering in Game 5 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium.