Betts' all-around skills worthy of MVP honors

Young star's bat, arm, glove and legs helped spark Red Sox to AL East title

Betts' all-around skills worthy of MVP honors

BOSTON -- Much like Mookie Betts himself, the Red Sox right fielder's ascension from emerging young player to superstar has been a striking combination of fast and powerful.

Fresh off of his second full Major League season, Betts hopes to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award on Thursday. Results will be announced during an MLB Network show that airs at 6 p.m. ET.'s complete awards coverage

It is then that Betts will have a chance to become the first Red Sox player to win the AL MVP Award since Dustin Pedroia in 2008.

The competition Betts faces is formidable. Angels center fielder Mike Trout and Astros hit machine (and second baseman) Jose Altuve are the other finalists.

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The fact that Betts was the only of the finalists to lead his team to the postseason could help his cause. The Red Sox, after finishing last the previous two seasons, won the AL East with a solid 93-win season.

It would not have been possible without the all-around excellence of Betts, who could beat teams with his bat (average and power), glove, arm and legs.

The MLB Awards -- following league-specific recognition by BBWAA voters, whose ballots are based on regular-season play -- include candidates from both leagues (with postseason performance taken into consideration). MLB Awards are based on votes by retired players, broadcasters/reporters, team executives, Society of American Baseball Research members and fans, with each group accounting for 20 percent of the process. Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and at 8 p.m. ET. MLB Awards categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Executive and Manager.

Betts started the season as Boston's leadoff hitter and transitioned to the middle of the order in August, and was one of the rare players who seemed perfectly suited for both roles.

Take a look at the AL leaderboard, and Betts is all over it. He ranked second in batting average (.318), second in hits (214), tied for second in runs (122), tied for third in doubles (42), tied for fourth in extra-base hits (78) and fourth in RBIs (113).

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When it comes to WAR for position players, only Trout (10.6) had a better one than Betts (9.6) in all of MLB.

In the area of defense, the case can be made convincingly that Betts was the best at any position in 2016. Last week, he was named the Defensive Player of the Year in MLB. Betts also won the AL's Rawlings Gold Glove Award in right.

Consider that Betts wiped away the competition throughout MLB in defensive runs saved with 32. The next closest was Adam Eaton, who saved 22 runs.

Betts' arm was both strong and accurate, as he started four double plays while also making 14 assists, one behind Eaton for the MLB lead among right fielders.

Betts stole 26 bases while being caught only four times. In fact, he is one of 12 players in the past 50 seasons to swipe 25-plus bases and lead his league in total bases.

And don't be fooled by Betts' 5-foot-9, 180-pound frame. He belted 31 home runs and became the first Red Sox player to have a pair of three-homer games in the same season since legendary Hall of Famer Ted Williams.

Defensive Player of Year: Betts

Williams is the only Red Sox player to win two AL MVP Awards. If Betts can capture the trophy this year, he could be well on his way to joining Williams in that category or perhaps even surpassing the Splendid Splinter someday.

Red Sox players have won the AL MVP Award 11 times, but Betts would be just the third to do so in his age-23 season, joining Fred Lynn (1975) and Roger Clemens ('86).

Starting with the 1930s -- the decade that ushered in the "modern" MVP -- the Red Sox have had at least one winner in each decade. Betts will try to keep that streak going.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.