Has Mookie peaked?

BaseballJones

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One of the biggest differences between this year and last is Mookie Betts. This year he's been a very good major league baseball player: 12 hr, .267/.388/.463/.852, 123 ops+, 3.2 bWAR.

Last year he was otherworldly: 32 hr, .346/.438/.640/1.078, 186 ops+, 10.9 bWAR

His regression from otherworldly to very good has been precipitous, and a major factor in the Sox' offense dropping from #1 in runs and ops in 2018 down to 7th in runs and ops in 2019.
 

EricFeczko

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One of the biggest differences between this year and last is Mookie Betts. This year he's been a very good major league baseball player: 12 hr, .267/.388/.463/.852, 123 ops+, 3.2 bWAR.

Last year he was otherworldly: 32 hr, .346/.438/.640/1.078, 186 ops+, 10.9 bWAR

His regression from otherworldly to very good has been precipitous, and a major factor in the Sox' offense dropping from #1 in runs and ops in 2018 down to 7th in runs and ops in 2019.
The reduction in Betts and JDM's output are the biggest reasons why the offense is reduced from last year. Take a look at this rolling average plot from JDM:

25013
It doesn't look like he's in decline, but JDM has definitely had troughs like this in his performance before. Hopefully, he bounces back at the right time. Here's betts:
25014

Keep in mind that Bett's floor here is an average run creator -- that clear decline from 2018-2019 is a decline from otherworldly to an above average player (e.g. where he was in 2016). Still, the factors for this decline are frustrating because we can't explain them. Low BABIP numbers and inexplicable fluctuations in power are hard to explain. On the plus side, this may make both players more affordable for the red sox (or in JDM's case, less likely to opt-out).
 

Hawk68

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Those data tell me we have seen peak Mookie Betts.

Assume Betts will go to free agency.

What will he cost as a free agent?

And what can we get for him in trade with his contract locking him in for the last 1/2 of 2019 and all of 2020?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Those data tell me we have seen peak Mookie Betts.
That data says nothing of the sort. His 2019 looks fairly similar to his 2017. In fact, it hasn't hit the same depths as 2017 and somehow he recovered to MVP levels in 2018. There's zero evidence he has peaked, certainly not at age 26.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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That data says nothing of the sort. His 2019 looks fairly similar to his 2017. In fact, it hasn't hit the same depths as 2017 and somehow he recovered to MVP levels in 2018. There's zero evidence he has peaked, certainly not at age 26.
He just wants excuses to be rid of certain players. To him it's all just black and white.
 

Hawk68

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That data says nothing of the sort. His 2019 looks fairly similar to his 2017. In fact, it hasn't hit the same depths as 2017 and somehow he recovered to MVP levels in 2018. There's zero evidence he has peaked, certainly not at age 26.
I do not see the 2019 trend in the 2017 data, but reasonable people can disagree.

To eliminate the eyeball analysis of trends, looking at his Fangrapshs season average data, Betts 2019 wRC+ 119 most like his 2015 wRC+120.

Peak Mookie... time will tell.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I do not see the 2019 trend in the 2017 data, but reasonable people can disagree.

To eliminate the eyeball analysis of trends, looking at his Fangrapshs season average data, Betts 2019 wRC+ 119 most like his 2015 wRC+120.

Peak Mookie... time will tell.
Jesus F'in Shit.... the guy is still not close to his "prime years" in baseball yet. You clearly don't like him.... Price.... or JBJ..... and there's something they all share... .hmmmmm........

If you were making an argument that you are concerned that Betts will be getting paid Trout money because of his '18 he'd be getting overpaid. Nobody is sure what the market will offer him. The Sox aren't trading Betts though... the guy is a borderline superstar even when he's not at his 2018 levels and is one of the most exciting players I've seen on the Sox since Nomar.
The Sox should pursue a long term signing again for him after this season at $30M for 8 years, no matter if he stays at this level or not. That's not Trout money, but he shouldn't be getting Trout money and I don't think he will when/if he tests Free Agency.
FWIW, I suspect JDM will also pick up his option years.
 

absintheofmalaise

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Those data tell me we have seen peak Mookie Betts.

Assume Betts will go to free agency.

What will he cost as a free agent?

And what can we get for him in trade with his contract locking him in for the last 1/2 of 2019 and all of 2020?
I broke this out into a new thread so you can defend what you posted about Betts and so it doesn't continue to derail the other thread. We need objective analysis here. Make it good.
 

bosox79

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Jesus F'in Shit.... the guy is still not close to his "prime years" in baseball yet. You clearly don't like him.... Price.... or JBJ..... and there's something they all share... .hmmmmm........
If 26 isn't even close to his "prime years" wtf is? He is in his prime right now. The thing is, Hawk is probably right. Mookie will most likely never match his 2018 production ever again. It doesn't mean his current production is what we should expect going forward.
 

BaseballJones

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I think it’s unlikely that Mookie matches his 2018 production, simply because that season was pretty otherworldly. It’s unreasonable to expect ANYONE besides Trout to match that.

If Mookie is merely a perennial all star and top five MVP a candidate, that’s pretty damned good. And it’s not unreasonable to think that over the next 6 seasons or so, that that’s exactly what Betts will be.


By bWAR, Mookie last year put up the 21st best season in MLB history, and the 2nd best season in Red Sox’ history. So yeah it’s not fair to expect MORE from him than that.
 

threecy

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I think it's easy to wonder that, considering how some other home grown superstars peaked (in their cases, prior to injuries)...Garciaparra at 26, Pedroia at 24, Ellsbury at 27. Hopefully Mookie stays healthy and can produce for the Sox for many years to come.
 

teddywingman

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I think he's slumping and it may have something to do with having an infant and being a father for the first time.

2018 probably was his peak, I mean, one of the best seasons in history is hard to top.
 

Hawk68

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Some years back Fangraphs examined the pre and post steroid age related performance.

For the reasons above; 2018 was outlier; our home grown stars have shown rapid declines, and the wRC+ curves in Fangraphs https://blogs.fangraphs.com/hitters-no-longer-peak-only-decline/... I think it safe to say we have seen peak Mookie Betts.

The question Red Sox leadership has to answer is how to maximize Betts' value to the Red Sox?

Let him give the Sox his best cost controled performance then depart as a FA, trade him now when he is at his highest market value, or as some may emotionally wish, extend him into his decline phase?

Given the disappointing 2018, I favor exploring his trade value.
 

teddywingman

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Some years back Fangraphs examined the pre and post steroid age related performance.

For the reasons above; 2018 was outlier; our home grown stars have shown rapid declines, and the wRC+ curves in Fangraphs https://blogs.fangraphs.com/hitters-no-longer-peak-only-decline/... I think it safe to say we have seen peak Mookie Betts.

The question Red Sox leadership has to answer is how to maximize Betts' value to the Red Sox?

Let him give the Sox his best cost controled performance then depart as a FA, trade him now when he is at his highest market value, or as some may emotionally wish, extend him into his decline phase?

Given the disappointing 2018, I favor exploring his trade value.
What? This makes no sense.
 

BaseballJones

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Some years back Fangraphs examined the pre and post steroid age related performance.

For the reasons above; 2018 was outlier; our home grown stars have shown rapid declines, and the wRC+ curves in Fangraphs https://blogs.fangraphs.com/hitters-no-longer-peak-only-decline/... I think it safe to say we have seen peak Mookie Betts.

The question Red Sox leadership has to answer is how to maximize Betts' value to the Red Sox?

Let him give the Sox his best cost controled performance then depart as a FA, trade him now when he is at his highest market value, or as some may emotionally wish, extend him into his decline phase?

Given the disappointing 2018, I favor exploring his trade value.
Last year he put up one of the best seasons in MLB history. Now, like in 2017, he’s merely an all star. Think about that. “Merely” an all star.

He’s the kind of player the Sox should be trying to acquire, not deal away. And since they already have him, he’s the kind of player they should be locking up for a long long time.
 

edoug

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I think he's slumping and it may have something to do with having an infant and being a father for the first time.

2018 probably was his peak, I mean, one of the best seasons in history is hard to top.
Exactly, he may never top '18, he's still one of the best players in the MLB. But if the front office isn't sure if he wants to re-sign, trading him should be considered.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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If 26 isn't even close to his "prime years" wtf is? He is in his prime right now. The thing is, Hawk is probably right. Mookie will most likely never match his 2018 production ever again. It doesn't mean his current production is what we should expect going forward.
For some reason I thought Mookie was 25. "Prime years" for me is 26-32. So he's still at the early point of peak years IMO, as unlikely as we'll ever see a peak as high as his 2018 season I think it's reasonable to expect something closer to a .925 OPS consistently for the next 6 years. $30M per season for an 8 year contract would be adequate IMO
 

TheoShmeo

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I don't think Mookie has peaked. For the reasons stated by other posters, I think we have very little evidence of anything other than a down season.

But it's also noteworthy that Betts was not particularly good at the plate in October last year. What, if anything, that means is unclear. I just note that his down year arguably started after the 2018 regular season ended.

At least one poster wrote that the Sox will not trade Betts. But if they fall way behind in the WC race by the deadline and are of the view that it will be difficult to sign Betts, then shouldn't they do exactly that?

I really can't imagine this team suddenly turning it around with such a craptastic pen. Even if they somehow stay in the WC race, that pen will get savaged by good offenses in October. And it's not as if they need to add just one arm to steady the ship. Even if they had payroll flexibility to address the bullpen, their needs are multiple.

Given that reality, and assuming they think Betts coming back will be difficult, maximizing the return seems wise.
 

Devizier

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I mean, probably?

Mookie just had a peak Mickey Mantle / Willie Mays season. The only guys ahead of that level are Ruth, Bonds, Williams, and such.
 

Boggs26

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Ignoring the fan reactions and other emotional reasons not to trade Betts, isn't the real issue with trading someone of that caliber that there is almost no chance it makes the team better?

What would be considered a success in that trade? My first thoughts (just in terms of key pieces, obviously smaller pieces might be involved from either side):

Option 1 - A number 1 or 2 current caliber starting pitcher with a Sale-like ceiling and at least 4 years of control. (If this person even exists, no one is trading him)

Option 2 - A more or less direct replacement of Betts with a little more uncertainty but more years of control. IE a young OF with a peak thought to be in the 8-10 WAR range. (Again, I can't imagine a team making this trade)

Option 3 - A top prospect at a non-OF position with a Mookie-like ceiling and high floor. Something like a Bo Bichette perhaps? (This MIGHT be possible, especially for a team in immediate contention whose top position prospect doesn't play a position of need, AND who is in need of an OF that can help immediately.)

I'd much rather see Mookie signed, but if one of these options was on the table AND the Sox felt certain they couldn't resign Mookie, I'd feel OK with it. But in reality I don't think you ever win a trade when you're the team giving up someone on a HoF trajectory who is just entering their prime years.
 

Max Power

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Mookie's had a problem this year in his approach. He looks exactly like he did in 2017 where he was taking fastballs right down the middle, getting behind, and swinging at pitches away. I'm not sure what he can do to fix that, but he managed to for much of 2018.

I also wonder if he's dealing with some kind of leg issue. His range seems a bit diminished in the field, he only has 10 stolen base attempts on the season, and he's very slow down the line (on pace to set a career high in GIDP). I hope it's not just who he is from now on.
 

Was (Not Wasdin)

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I'm not advocating trading Mookie this year (in the absence of a Herschel Walker type deal), but how would his contract work if he were traded this year? Let's say the Braves offer a bunch of good prospects, and the Sox accept. The Braves have to come to an agreement with him (for however long) or go to arbitration in the spring, correct? So let's say they agree on a one year deal (or go to arbitration) for 2020. At the end of the 2020 season, the Braves have to make the QO to him to get draft pick compensation if he goes elsewhere, correct? And if he goes elsewhere, the team that signs him would lose a pick or picks?
 

EricFeczko

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That data says nothing of the sort. His 2019 looks fairly similar to his 2017. In fact, it hasn't hit the same depths as 2017 and somehow he recovered to MVP levels in 2018. There's zero evidence he has peaked, certainly not at age 26.
This is absolutely correct -- establishing whether or not a player has "peaked" requires knowing the functions that drive the player's trajectory. Since Mookie has not finished his career, and we neither have a time machine nor a mapping of Mookie's current to trajectory to a functional (in the modelling sense) predictive model, all this tells us is that he was otherworldly in 2018 and very good otherwise. It is also a point of evidence for "what has gone wrong with the red sox", whether mookie has "peaked" is beyond the scope for this data to answer.

In fact, Mookie's low performance here carries a silver lining -- he may be more affordable for a long-term contract that provides greater value on a HOF-caliber player.
 

Mystic Merlin

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He had a historic year last season (a top 20 WAR for a single season), so the odds are he’s not repeating it.

Tom Brady didn’t repeat his 2007 season, either, but he has been pretty ok since then.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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Most recent analyses of player aging that I've seen suggest that while every player is different, a typical career arc is a fast upward trajectory to age 24 or 25, followed by a plateau to about 28, with a gradual decline to the early 30s followed by a steeper one after that. So if Mookie is typical, then asking if he's peaked at 26 is a bit of a dog-bites-man question--that's kind of what happens. It wouldn't be at all surprising if 2018 turns out to have been the best year he'll ever have -- but by the same token, there's no reason to assume his 2019 performance is the new normal. He could easily turn in several more years that are in between the two, in the 6-9 WAR range.
 

bosox79

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Most recent analyses of player aging that I've seen suggest that while every player is different, a typical career arc is a fast upward trajectory to age 24 or 25, followed by a plateau to about 28, with a gradual decline to the early 30s followed by a steeper one after that. So if Mookie is typical, then asking if he's peaked at 26 is a bit of a dog-bites-man question--that's kind of what happens. It wouldn't be at all surprising if 2018 turns out to have been the best year he'll ever have -- but by the same token, there's no reason to assume his 2019 performance is the new normal. He could easily turn in several more years that are in between the two, in the 6-9 WAR range.
His 2019 performance isn't that far off a 6 WAR pace anyway. I doubt he'll ever repeat least year because he had close to a .300 ISO and he's never come close to that figure before. He's more of a .200 guy. I'd expect to see some .300/.400/.500 type seasons and I wouldn't be all that shocked if 2019 ended up being one of them.
 

BaseballJones

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Most recent analyses of player aging that I've seen suggest that while every player is different, a typical career arc is a fast upward trajectory to age 24 or 25, followed by a plateau to about 28, with a gradual decline to the early 30s followed by a steeper one after that. So if Mookie is typical, then asking if he's peaked at 26 is a bit of a dog-bites-man question--that's kind of what happens. It wouldn't be at all surprising if 2018 turns out to have been the best year he'll ever have -- but by the same token, there's no reason to assume his 2019 performance is the new normal. He could easily turn in several more years that are in between the two, in the 6-9 WAR range.
Exactly. His 2018, as I've pointed out, was one of the great seasons in baseball history (by bWAR it's better than any season Bonds or Ted Williams ever put up, if you can believe that). It's very unlikely that he'll repeat that. But his regression has simply been down to a "mere all-star" level player. And this feels like a "down" year - an all-star season is now a "down" year for Mookie. That tells you that he's a very very special player. It's quite likely that he'll be a 7-9 WAR player for the next 6 years, which would be a helluva good thing to have on the roster, and would put him very much on a hall of fame arc. Those guys simply don't grow on trees.
 

DanoooME

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I'm not advocating trading Mookie this year (in the absence of a Herschel Walker type deal), but how would his contract work if he were traded this year? Let's say the Braves offer a bunch of good prospects, and the Sox accept. The Braves have to come to an agreement with him (for however long) or go to arbitration in the spring, correct? So let's say they agree on a one year deal (or go to arbitration) for 2020. At the end of the 2020 season, the Braves have to make the QO to him to get draft pick compensation if he goes elsewhere, correct? And if he goes elsewhere, the team that signs him would lose a pick or picks?
All true. This article describes the specifics of the various QO scenarios and appropriate compensation.
 

E5 Yaz

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I'm tying to figure out the logic of "exploring the trade value" of an asset that you've decided has peaked? "Hey look guys; it's all down hill from here ... what will you give me for him?"

Send a memo to the other 29 teams and say the best offer gets Mookie ... if all teams were willing to spend the same amount of money, you'd get 29 offers.
 

geoduck no quahog

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All this peak / non-peak talk has my head spinning. I imagine it has everything to do with the individual, his reflexes, his eyesight, his adaptability, his brain, his strength, etc. - things not easily quantifiable.

What else is difficult to quantify? A person's desire to test free agency and/or someone's desire to remain in a comfortable situation or seek more comfort elsewhere. Bogaerts is a good example of someone who chose to forego free agency and maximum income in order to stay where he felt most comfortable - attaining job and financial security at the same time.

Abraham mentioned that the Red Sox may have offered a similar deal to Betts (I can't recall) but that he chose instead to wait things out. That may be an indication that Betts feels there are better personal alternatives to Boston. If that's the case, it may be time to seriously think about a trade that brings maximum return. Personally, I wouldn't even think about it until the year before free agency because of the value he represents on the field, but it's certainly something to consider down the road. Waiting until the trade deadline of his walk year may not be the optimum approach.
 
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The Needler

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It's quite likely that he'll be a 7-9 WAR player for the next 6 years, which would be a helluva good thing to have on the roster, and would put him very much on a hall of fame arc. Those guys simply don't grow on trees.
But that’s not actually “quite likely.” His defense and speed are in decline, as happens to everyone. The WAR that he has picked up from baserunning and fielding early in his career will become negative WAR very soon within those next 6 years, and it is insanity to believe his oWAR alone is going to be in excess of 7-9 each year.

ZIPS projected him prior to this season at 6.5 and 6.2 WAR for 2020 and 2021, respectively. Those numbers will likely be adjusted downward, and 2022 he’ll be projected at sub-6. That would still be wonderful, but I’m not going to hold my breath for it.
 

Pitt the Elder

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So there's been a pretty detailed discussion about Mookie's 2019 performance here (with stats!), but to summarize, here are the key differences between Mookie's 2019 and 2018 campaigns.
  • Mookie's walk rate is significantly up this year and all stats indicate he's being more selective.
  • Mookie hit RHP very well in 2018 (wRC+ of 176), and that trend has largely continued in 2019 (wRC+ of 137). His 2019 batted ball profile vs RHP is nearly identical to what it was in 2018, with very similar exit velocities, launch angles, barrel %, hard contact %, etc.
  • Mookie absolutely murdered LHP in 2018 (wRC+ of 212) and, for some reason, he has done incredibly against them in 2019 (wRC+ of 58). His batted ball profile vs LHP is very different this year, with a higher launch angle, lower velocity, and much lower barrel %. It seems like he's getting under a lot of pitches and popping them up.
  • On a related note, Mookie is really doing poorly against offspeed and breaking stuff from LHP, with near-zero barrel % against these pitches.
  • Mookie had a really strong offensive April before struggling in May/June.
  • Mookie's baserunning and defensive metrics were really poor in Mar/April before rebounding in May/June
In short, a combination of a sluggish start in March combined with an inexplicable cratering of his usual elite batting against LHP has resulted in a very good, but not great, Mookie in 2019. It's possible that a confluence of factors are leading to this: a World Series/MVP hangover, the birth of his first child in November, or the natural ebb and flow that players not named Mike Trout see in their careers. It's also possible that he's struggling with his re-engineered swing, especially against LHP, and that we're simply watching a guy struggling to get his biomechanics back. Or maybe all of the above.

I think it's really easy to come out of the weekend travesty in London where we watched Mookie rollover some grounders into the shift while the nearly everyone else murdered the ball and declare that Something Serious Is Wrong. To echo what others have said, it's quite possible, and likely probable, that we'll never see Mookie post a full season of 10+ WAR, but I don't think he's lost his peak ability. Instead, I think we're seeing Mookie perform at his floor, which is still a *very good baseball player.* We've seen guys like Devers and JBJ bust out of slumps and start hitting rockets around the yard and I think it's very likely that we see Mookie go on a 6-8 week tear sometime soon and that he ends the year something closer to a 7-8 WAR player than the current 5-6 WAR pace he's on right now.

EDIT: Since I think this thread needs it, here are some of the tables I posted in the other thread (not including the last few games):

vs RHP:
YearExit VelocityLaunch AngleBarrel %Hard Hit %XBAXSLGXWOBA
201589.9145.9%37.0%0.2710.4340.330
201689.8124.6%39.8%0.2800.4340.336
201788.3154.8%38.1%0.2750.4370.344
201892.12013.2%49.2%0.3080.5910.424
201991.21713.8%49.3%0.2870.5550.414

YearGB%LD% FB%PU%
201539.6%25.2%28.0%7.2%
201642.7%25.3%22.4%9.5%
201740.0%24.9%22.4%12.8%
201833.2%26.8%32.6%7.4%
201937.7%23.9%27.5%10.9%

vs LHP:
YearExit VelocityLaunch AngleBarrel %Hard Hit %XBAXSLGXWOBA
201590175.9%40.0%0.3130.4780.361
201689.2158.5%41.0%0.2900.5000.358
201788.7123.6%37.5%0.2830.4450.361
201892.51516.8%53.3%0.3280.6720.461
201988.1213.8%26.4%0.2220.3320.267

YearGB%LD% FB%PU%
201536.3%26.7%26.7%10.4%
201637.6%23.1%27.4%12.0%
201744.6%23.2%19.6%12.5%
201836.4%26.2%29.0%8.4%
201932.1%20.8%43.4%3.8%

Additional batted ball data (vs LHP & RHP):
YearWeakToppedUnderFlare/BurnerSolidBarrel
20152.70%28.60%30.00%28.60%4.20%5.90%
20162.00%36.10%26.70%23.20%6.70%5.30%
20173.80%31.90%29.40%23.30%7%4.50%
20182.10%21.90%27.60%26.30%8.10%14.10%
20191.60%27.10%32.70%22.30%5.20%11.20%

There's still a lot of 2018 Mookie here. If he gets back to normal vs LHP, I think he can go on a tear.
 
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nvalvo

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To add to that, Betts has all of 95 PA against LHP this year, 14 walks and 12 Ks, and a .235 BABIP.

If he gets a hit in his next PA against a LHP, his BA in that split would go up by ~.010.
 

Bergs

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It really annoys me that the impetus for this thread was the poster it happened to be, because I am on team "don't break the bank for Mookie"...and he's my favorite active player in MLB.

I think it's spectacularly unlikely he (or 99.9% of other players not named Mike Trout) meets or exceeds Mookie's 2018. Thus - by definition - he has probably "peaked". This is a remarkably and savagely useless piece of information. The question that we should be asking is "will he be worth his next contract?", and I tend to doubt it. Someone is gonna go batshit on an offer for him, and I don't want that someone to be us. I really wish there was some kinda salary cap exemption in the CBA. Something like every team can match an offer for 1 player without it hitting the cap at 100%. Absent that, I on't know how we're going to able to afford Mookie + all the other guys it will take to contend. And let's face it, whatever his decline curve ends up looking like, it is almost certain to be well along by the end of whatever contract he signs.
 

fiskfan75

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I think he's slumping and it may have something to do with having an infant and being a father for the first time.

2018 probably was his peak, I mean, one of the best seasons in history is hard to top.
Totally agree..all winter i worried about the effect of new Dad syndrome. He is human after all..I wouldn't bet against him next year
 

johnnywayback

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I think Mookie will be fine -- 2018 may well wind up being his best season, but his true talent level is a lot closer to that than it is to what we're seeing now. I desperately want them to sign him to a long-term deal and for him to play the rest of his Hall of Fame career in a Red Sox uniform.

THAT SAID.

If he's not going to sign a long-term deal -- if he's intent on hitting free agency -- I just don't see how they can take the risk of letting him walk for nothing. Trading him this offseason would be a horribly painful thing, but it would allow you to add impact prospects who could extend the team's Sale/Bogaerts/Devers/Benintendi window while using the money to keep Martinez and Bradley, extend Benintendi and Devers, and add a first or second baseman and a starting pitcher to try to make 2020 a success. It wouldn't be my first choice, but if he simply refuses to engage in extension talks, don't you have to think about it?

That, however, is all assuming this team is going to the playoffs. If they fall out of the race, you might be able to get a lot more for him now, when he can help a team for two playoff runs. I still think you want to make certain you can't extend him before you think about trading him, but the team's current trajectory may suggest that the conversation needs to happen sooner rather than later.

I hate this whole line of thought. And I really hope that, if he does wind up somewhere else, it's because he had a principled objection to forgoing free agency or a mad desire to live somewhere else, and not because Henry and Dombrowski low-balled him.
 
Jul 5, 2018
126
I think he's slumping and it may have something to do with having an infant and being a father for the first time.

2018 probably was his peak, I mean, one of the best seasons in history is hard to top.
I've never heard of baseball players having their season performance negatively affected by having children. My first child brought a lot of happiness to my life which, if anything, would have been a plus had I been a baseball player.

It's difficult to find birthdates for player's children; do you have some examples of this phenomenon besides Mookie?
 
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shaggydog2000

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Apr 5, 2007
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I've never heard of baseball players having their season performance negatively affected by having children. My first child brought a lot of happiness to my life which, if anything, would have been a plus had I been a baseball player.

It's difficult to find birthdates for player's children; do you have some examples of this phenomenon besides Mookie.
It's probably as well founded in statistics as the "new contract dropoff", "Impending free agency effort", "Impending free agency nerves", "trying too hard after ___", "Not trying hard enough after____", and "Best shape of their lives!" phenomenon.

Humans love to attribute randomness to concise explanations like this. My guess is that it's more related to a minor injury or just random chance.
 

bosox79

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Dec 22, 2002
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I think Mookie will be fine -- 2018 may well wind up being his best season, but his true talent level is a lot closer to that than it is to what we're seeing now.
I'm not sure that's true (at least offensively), and if it was, they should have 0 problems signing him.

2014: 126 OPS+
2015: 117 OPS+
2016: 133 OPS+
2017: 108 OPS+
2018: 188 OPS+
2019: 117 OPS+
Career: 132 OPS+

Which one of those looks out of line with the rest of his career? 2018 was historic. His career slash line is .298/.371/.511. I'd guess that's about what he is, around a .900 OPS player with great defense. What we are seeing now is basically what we have seen every year except 2018.
 

mfried

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Nov 23, 2005
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I really like Mookie as an all-round player. Cora and the coaches are trying to get him to pull more, and pitchers (esp. RH) seem to be working away. That is not a good situation, and he has trained himself to look toward the outside part of the plate, even vs. LHers. Thus, when LHers throw breaking pitches inside he is totally unprepared. The total picture: he looks tentative and confused and takes too many hittable pitches. I predict that his second half will pick up, at least somewhat. He has gotten into the old-fashioned leadoff mentality of getting on base rather than being more of an offensive force.
 

Pitt the Elder

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Sep 7, 2013
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I'm not sure that's true (at least offensively), and if it was, they should have 0 problems signing him.

2014: 126 OPS+
2015: 117 OPS+
2016: 133 OPS+
2017: 108 OPS+
2018: 188 OPS+
2019: 117 OPS+
Career: 132 OPS+

Which one of those looks out of line with the rest of his career? 2018 was historic. His career slash line is .298/.371/.511. I'd guess that's about what he is, around a .900 OPS player with great defense. What we are seeing now is basically what we have seen every year except 2018.
When you consider that his first 3-4 years in that list are pre-prime, you'd expect that Mookie, at age 26, would be performing above his erstwhile career averages.
 

BoSox Rule

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Jul 15, 2005
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Baseball players peak earlier than people think, especially over the last 10-15 years.
 

gryoung

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Given his assumed contract demands, risk of him walking in free agency, and potential to maintain his productivity considering his size (on the small side with significant reliance on his legs), I’d certainly listen if a GM called and had a stocked farm system.
 

Pitt the Elder

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Sep 7, 2013
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For what it's worth, Mookie and the Red Sox front office might find more common ground for a contract after a down year than after a career year. My guess is that the Sox had always baked in this kind of down-year performance into their projections while Mookie, having just had an incredible season, may have assumed that was his new normal and that he was Mike Trout redux. He's clearly not and he may be less bullish on his market value than he was last winter.

I think there's a general narrative that Mookie has reverted back to his mean, specifically to that of his 2017 performance. However, while his 2017 and 2019 performances are superficially similar, the underlying stats are very different. Here are some key stats from 2017-2019:
  • Exit velocity: 88.4, 92.2, 90.4
  • Launch angle: 14.1, 18.3, 17.9
  • Barrel %: 4.5, 14.1, 10.9
  • K%: 11.1, 14.8, 14.9
  • BB%: 10.8, 13.2, 16.0
  • wRC+ vs RHP: 98, 176, 140
  • wRC+ vs LHP: 139, 212, 58
I think important to note how different his 2019 is from his 2017, particularly in his batted ball profile. He's still hitting the ball at higher velocities with higher launch angles. In this way, his 2019 is much more similar to his 2018 and consistent with fundamental changes Mookie made to his swing prior to last year and I think it's reasonable to expect some reversion to the performance of this *new normal.* Specifically, it's *very* weird how poorly Mookie has done against LHP so far this year (notably, Mookie still crushed LHP in 2017 but struggled against RHP). I mentioned in previous posts that it looks like he's been getting under the ball too often against LHP (evidenced by a much higher launch angle), likely resulting in lazy fly balls rather than barreled liners, so it's possible that his new launch angle approach has gone a click too far and that he needs to adjust again to make better contact. Anyway, if you wanted to bet money on how Mookie would revert to the mean, I think the smart money is that Mookie starts hitting lefties more like he has in the past, which is very, very well. If he does this, and he flips that switch soonish, his season will look a lot more like 2016 than 2017, which is still an MVP-level talent.
 
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InstaFace

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Sep 27, 2016
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It really annoys me that the impetus for this thread was the poster it happened to be, because I am on team "don't break the bank for Mookie"...and he's my favorite active player in MLB.

I think it's spectacularly unlikely he (or 99.9% of other players not named Mike Trout) meets or exceeds Mookie's 2018. Thus - by definition - he has probably "peaked". This is a remarkably and savagely useless piece of information. The question that we should be asking is "will he be worth his next contract?", and I tend to doubt it. Someone is gonna go batshit on an offer for him, and I don't want that someone to be us. I really wish there was some kinda salary cap exemption in the CBA. Something like every team can match an offer for 1 player without it hitting the cap at 100%. Absent that, I on't know how we're going to able to afford Mookie + all the other guys it will take to contend. And let's face it, whatever his decline curve ends up looking like, it is almost certain to be well along by the end of whatever contract he signs.
Unlike other leagues with harder salary caps, the question for us is less whether he'll objectively be worth $X or $Y but what other talent could we add to the roster for that amount of money. Let's say the proposed deal is 8y @ $30M AAV (and yes I know who his agent is, bear with me). It is almost literally impossible to get his projected value with a single player, even assuming some baserunning and defense regression a while before any long-term batting decline. So we're not just evaluating "Mookie vs replacement RF", we're also evaluating how efficiently we can upgrade some other position with some-to-all of the money saved. What does league-average production (obtained through FA, anyway) at each position cost? My impression is, for most positions, well more than half that annual figure. Then you come to the point that year-to-year volatility for average players is higher than volatility for superstars, so the assets you're buying with the money saved from Mookie are likelier to go to waste than they are with him, all else equal.

The hardest thing in MLB roster-building is to get superstars, because no one wants to give them up ever, and those who reach free agency can cost staggering amounts of money. We can better-afford a superstar than nearly any other team, and have one of the surest bets for continued success even among superstars on our roster - arguably the #2 surest bet for the next decade. Where could our money JWH's money possibly be better spent than that? I have a hard time seeing it.
 

Murby

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Mar 16, 2006
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Given his assumed contract demands, risk of him walking in free agency, and potential to maintain his productivity considering his size (on the small side with significant reliance on his legs), I’d certainly listen if a GM called and had a stocked farm system.
Agree with this. Especially given his refusal to agree to a deal after his down year in 2017. To me, he has made it abundantly clear he is betting on himself and taking himself to market unless you knock him over with an obscene offer (read: $35-40M per year), which even if he was the player he was last year...I would pass on.

My issue is that even if I wanted to do this, I am not sure I trust the current brass to evaluate minor league prospects to get a deal that would payoff in the future. It's a tough call, but I'd rather sell now. Re-sign JD and you have Chavis, Dever, & Bogaerts...that's four solid bats with a reasonably good bat in Benitendi to fill out the lineup. You can win with that in my view if you have the right players around them. That's on the scouting department to make a solid deal.
 

azsoxpatsfan

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May 23, 2014
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Agree with this. Especially given his refusal to agree to a deal after his down year in 2017. To me, he has made it abundantly clear he is betting on himself and taking himself to market unless you knock him over with an obscene offer (read: $35-40M per year), which even if he was the player he was last year...I would pass on.

My issue is that even if I wanted to do this, I am not sure I trust the current brass to evaluate minor league prospects to get a deal that would payoff in the future. It's a tough call, but I'd rather sell now. Re-sign JD and you have Chavis, Dever, & Bogaerts...that's four solid bats with a reasonably good bat in Benitendi to fill out the lineup. You can win with that in my view if you have the right players around them. That's on the scouting department to make a solid deal.
If he was the player he was last season and asked for 35 million a year, he would and should absolutely get it.
 

Al Zarilla

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San Andreas Fault
This has been a fall from grace batting year for Mookie, so I decided to look for other top hitters and who also had big dropoff seasons. There aren't many. Just looking at batting average, and considering their prime years only (of course people drop off after 30 or so). I didn't look at anyone before the "Ruth years", and I didn't spend all day at this. Couldn't find a way to search for this, so this was "by hand". I therefore most likely missed some cases. For comparison sake, Mookie has had a .318 to .264 in '16-'17 and a .346 to .262 year to date last year, this year.

Babe Ruth dropped from .378 in 1924 to .290 in 1925. I believe that was when he was maxing out on the booze and food binging (and carousing?). He of course straightened it around from 1926 on. Pretty big time.

Bryce Harper had the great season with all the numbers in 2015, then dropped from .330 to .243. He had a bounceback year in 2017 but has fallen back again the last 2 years.

Rickey Henderson had his ups and downs hitting wise, a, 319 to .267, a .324 to .263 and a .325 to .268, but was he a great hitter anyway? Not really, he was a great on base guy and base stealer.

Frank Robinson had a .342 to .258 dropoff in '62-'63 but his games were down so maybe he was hurt.

Yaz had a .329 to .254 in '70 - '71. He changed his stance a few times and mostly righted the ship. The .254 was in his age 31 year, so maybe he was starting the decline anyway.

Ripken had a .323 to .251 in years 30 and 31.

Adrian Beltre had a .334 with great power numbers and dropped off to .255 with not so great power nos. age 25-26. That started 5 down (for him) years hitting wise, then he came back and hit over .300 for a few years in his 30s.

Frank Thomas had a .347 to .265 at ages 29 and 30, bounced back.

What Mookie is in the midst of is pretty rare. It's not just one off year after a great year, hitting wise, but two. Somebody mentioned his size. He does like to hit for power, so maybe he has to max out on his stride and swing from the heels all the time to produce the power given his size. Any injury or anything else that cause variance in the swing or stride, inside/outside might throw him off. He could use the best hitting coach in the game right now. Who is that?
 

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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By ESPN's WAR calculation (they use b-ref's WAR formula, I think), Betts is still ahead of Bogaerts, despite what seems like Bogaerts having a much better season at a premier position so far.

Betts: 13 hr, .268/.388/.458/.847, 3.3 bWAR
Bogaerts: 17 hr, .295/.385/.535/.920, 2.7 bWAR

But then Fangraphs has it different:

Betts: 2.6 fWAR
Bogaerts: 3.7 fWAR

Which seems to be more accurate. How does b-ref calculate WAR different than Fangraphs? I'm sure that's been asked here before but it seems like those are quite disparate numbers.