With the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox due to meet shortly for the first-ever MLB games to be played in the UK, the Bat Flips and Nerds player previews reach the right field studs.
- Team: Boston Red Sox
- Height: 175cm (5’ 9”)
- Age: 26
- Bats: Right-handed
- From: Tennessee, USA
- 2019 salary: $20 million (final year of arbitration in 2020)
The poster-boy for vertically-challenged men across the globe, Mookie Betts is arguably the best player on the planet behind Mike Trout.
By agreeing to a record-breaking, arbitration-avoiding $20 million deal in January, the Red Sox clearly realise the value of their superstar. Expect next year’s final year of arbitration-eligibility to result in an other-worldly number.
Betts was drafted in the lowly fifth round by the Red Sox in 2011, the same year they took Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley Jr., but bizarrely he never featured on top prospects lists. The year before he made his MLB debut, Betts was ranked as the Red Sox No.16 prospect.
Since reaching the big leagues, the diminutive superstar has been nothing less than sensational. He led MLB with 129 runs and .346 AVG last season on his way to securing the AL MVP. According to the advanced metric WAR (wins above replacement), only legendary slugger Barry Bonds has enjoyed better seasons this century.
It is fair to say that the global audience did not see the best of Betts in October, but the 26-year-old launched his first ever postseason home run in the title-clinching Game 5 of the World Series against the Dodgers.
Three-time Gold Glove winner, Betts was off to a slow start 2019 but already has double-digit home runs with more walks than strikeouts.
Fun fact No.1: His real name is Markus Lynn Betts
Fun fact No.2: He served hot meals to the homeless at 1:00 am after Game 2 of the World Series
Fun fact No.3: He is a professional Ten Pin bowler with three perfect games (strike in every frame) to his name
The funnest of facts is that (according to the Boston Globe), Betts is distantly related to the Duchess of Sussex. Apparently, the pair share ancestors in Alabama, which is causing his teammates to encourage Meghan and Prince Harry to attend the London Series and cheer for the Red Sox.
- Team: New York Yankees
- Height: 201cm (6’ 7”)
- Age: 27
- Bats: Right-handed
- From: California, USA
- 2019 salary: $0.68 million (pre-arbitration eligible)
One of the faces of MLB, Aaron Judge is currently injured, and his availability for the London Series is questionable. The latest news is that the superstar is hitting in an indoor batting cage and taking fly balls in the outfield. The Yankees will not want to rush him back, no matter how much fans in the UK want to see him.
Judge is a beast of a man, and since he burst onto the scene in April 2017, the 6-foot-7 giant has slugged 84 homers at a rate only bettered by two other players, both of whom will hopefully play in London, Giancarlo Stanton and Red Sox’ JD Martinez.
Despite Judge being one of the most feared hitters in the game, the pay structure of baseball means that he is one of the least rewarded, earning $684K this season. By comparison, the Phillies recently signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal.
Judge was taken in the first round with the 32nd pick of the 2013 draft. Of the 31 players chosen ahead of him, only Cubs’ Kris Bryant represented an arguably a better pick.
Hitting homers for fun, his first full season was a series of historic events. He was also an All-Star, and he won the Home Run Derby (the only rookie ever to do so). Judge finished the season with 52 home runs (yet another rookie record).
Unsurprisingly, he won the AL Rookie of the Year award securing 100% of the first place votes. In the AL MVP award, Judge, the tallest hitter in the league, finished second just behind Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve, one of the shortest players in the league.Embed from Getty Images
Fun fact No.1: The jersey Judge wore when he hit his first home run sold for $160,000
Fun fact No.2: He is the tallest hitter in the majors, and at 128 kgs (20st 2lbs) he is also the heaviest
Fun fact No.3: He superstitiously tosses exactly 40 sunflower seeds onto the grass behind home plate (one for each player on the Yankees 40-man roster)
If Judge is still injured or restricted to designated hitter duties, look for Clint Frazier to patrol right field. Red Thunder was a top prospect in the Cleveland Indians organisation until he was traded to New York in the deal that sent Andrew Miller the other way.
At just 25 years old, Frazier is full of promise, although the manic New York media is making it a struggle for a guy who enjoys his privacy.
Watch out for the rest of our player profiles and make sure you follow @BatFlips_Nerds on Twitter to keep up-to-date with all of the latest London Series news