The Boston Red Sox outfield is often manned by two starters and one utility player that have been recently converted from infielders to outfielders. Brandon Magee compares Mookie Betts’ and Brock Holt’s successful conversions to the struggles of Hanley Ramirez as he looks at the Red Sox unique infield outfield.
The outfields of most major league teams are typically populated with players who have spent years honing their skills as outfielders. However, the Red Sox have a pair of starters in Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts who have recently been converted from infielders to the outfield. When super utility man Brock Holt joins the duo, the Red Sox field the most unusual outfield in baseball – the infield outfield.
Mookie Betts was drafted as a shortstop by the Red Sox in the 5th round of the 2011 MLB amateur draft. Betts started his only game in 2011 at short, as well as 13 games for the Lowell Spinners in 2012. However, he would play most of his games at second base for the Spinners in 2012 and would play there exclusively during the 2013 season for the Greenville Drive and Salem Red Sox. Betts would begin 2014 as the second baseman of the Portland Sea Dogs, but the quick maturation of his bat and being blocked at second by Dustin Pedroia led the Red Sox to move him to the outfield.
On May 18th, 2014, the day after his 71 game on base streak ended, Mookie started his first professional game in centerfield. While the Trenton Thunder did not test him that day, as only two balls were hit to Betts, Betts had a new primary position. Mookie was soon promoted to Pawtucket, where he played center in 33 of his 45 games with the PawSox. He also played a handful of games in right field. After being promoted to Boston, Mookie played 40 of his 52 games in the outfield (28 in CF/12 in RF) before being installed as the starting CF on opening day this year.
Betts has adapted well to his new position. As seen in this video, he tracks the ball to the wall, gives himself room to leap and catches the ball with no difficulty. Notice how his eyes are focused on the ball:
One of the more difficult plays for a centerfielder is a line drive right at you. As you can see in this video, Betts quickly tracks back and, while needing to make a small jump, makes this difficult play look easy:
Betts also helps the Red Sox with his arm. He already has four outfield assists this year, including a league high two which turned double plays. He also had three outfield assists last season, two of which were double plays:
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