June 18, 2024

It’s no secret that the Dodgers won the Mookie Betts trade in 2020. Los Angeles acquired Betts, extended him, and won the World Series in an eleven-month period. Today, the superstar remains one of baseball’s top players. However, this does not imply that Boston did not acquire any valuable assets. Red Sox catcher Connor Wong was one of three players acquired in exchange for Betts, RHP David Price, and cash. While it may have taken a little while to develop, Wong is proving important value for Boston. Four years later, he is still producing positives from the Mookie Betts transaction.

Connor Wong Providing Positives In 2024

Connor Wong Is Popping and Blocking | FanGraphs Baseball

 

NConnor Wong enters 2024 with only 159 MLB games under his belt. Last year marked the first time the catcher received consistent playing time. He finished 2023 with a.235 batting average, nine home runs, and 36 RBI in 126 games. His .673 OPS put Wong at barely an 80 OPS+, leaving him with mediocre results compared to competitors. However, in a short period of time this season, Connor Wong is on track to far exceed those figures.

As of May 27, Wong had played in 36 of Boston’s 54 games. In a short period of time, he has developed into one of the Red Sox’s most reliable players. Wong is batting.333 in 2024, with an OPS of.855. Both of these numbers show a significant difference from 2023. That is especially true when considering his power statistics. Wong’s five bombs are already more than half his total from last season. And his 18 RBI mark exactly 50% of his number last campaign.

Wong’s Monster Performances

Wong has taken a tremendous step ahead. In just 30% of the games, he’s already begun to inch close to his career-best stats from 2023. Wong is doing it in style with eye-popping performances. He had a scorching start to the year, beginning with hits in four consecutive outings. By Wong’s 13th game, he already had five multi-knock contests. And on April 24 against Cleveland, he produced possibly the finest game of his career. Wong recorded a hit in all four of his at-bats, smashed two homers, had 3 RBI, and was hit by a pitch. His average immediately jumped from .320 to .370 in just a day.

Wong hasn’t landed a bomb since that contest. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been productive. He’s still batting over.300 since the two-homer game, and he got four more hits against the Cardinals on May 17. Wong had only one double at the end of April. After only 19 games, he already has five. Wong has the second highest batting average among all MLB catchers and ranks in the top 10 for OPS. In terms of WAR, he ranks fourth among Boston batters, trailing Jarren Duran, Wilyer Abreu, and Rafael Devers.

Wong’s Defense Paying Dividends

Sure, Connor Wong has been quite impressive at the plate in 2024. However, he adds value in other areas as well. He has already thrown out six runners and provided 17 assists behind the plate. Wong’s arm is a formidable weapon for Boston. He ranks sixth amongst all catchers in average throw speed (82.3 mph). On May 12 against the Washington Nationals, Wong showed that off as he single-handedly terminated the game by gunning a runner out at second base.

Wong hasn’t only played behind the plate. Due to his versatility, he has played both first and second base. Wong has only played four games on the field other than catcher, but his versatility has benefitted Boston in times of need. The Red Sox have been torn apart by injuries this season, and even a few outings across the field may alleviate the pressure off a ballclub as they hunt for long-term answers. His effect is behind the plate, but his athleticism earned him three infield positions.

Connor Wong’s Impact

As said, Wong was one of three players the Red Sox obtained in the Mookie Betts to Los Angeles exchange. Along with Wong, Boston received outfielder Alex Verdugo and infield prospect Jeter Downs. Downs, while being regarded as a promising prospect, never made an impact in the major leagues for the Red Sox. In just 14 games, he batted.154 and had six hits. In December 2022, Boston designated Downs for assignment. Washington acquired him, and he made a brief MLB debut in 2023 before joining the New York Yankees’ farm system.

Verdugo was a valuable asset to the Boston Red Sox from 2020 to 2023, appearing in 493 games. He had four successful batting seasons.280 or better in three. His OPS+ was 100 or higher in all four seasons at Fenway Park. Verdugo was a key member of Boston’s outfield until he left before the 2024 season. Last December, the 28-year-old was moved to New York in exchange for three minor-league pitchers. Verdugo has batted in 52 Yankees games.261 with seven home runs, 28 RBI, and a.755 OPS.

Wong and Verdugo are the two Red Sox from the trade that have made an impact in MLB. If Wong continues his current season, it will outperform any year Verdugo spent in a Boston uniform. Obviously, this is dependent on the catcher maintaining consistency and avoiding injury. However, in an era when the Red Sox require good bats and solid defense, Connor Wong’s inclusion in the Mookie Betts trade is beneficial to Boston.

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