Frank Robinson is the only player in MLB history to win MVPs in both the American League and National League, but it's entirely possible that a scalding-hot month of May could propel Mookie Betts into being the second member of that exclusive club.
Betts already has an AL MVP on his resume in 2018, which he won as a member of the Boston Red Sox. In 2020, his first year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he finished runner-up to his now-teammate Freddie Freeman for the NL MVP.
Even though he was an All-Star, 2021 was a relative down year for Betts, who slashed .264/.367/.487 with 23 home runs, 58 RBIs and a 3.5 fWAR, with a right hip injury limiting him to 122 games. While a dip in production from some of the all-time great seasons that Betts has had, if 2021 is the baseline, that gives you a pretty good idea of how great of a player he is.
And if there was any remaining doubt about whether Betts was still one of the game's elite players -- we ranked him as the No. 3 position player in baseball before the season -- he's squashed them in May.
Betts hit just .230 in April, but has responded by slashing .345/.414/.747 with nine home runs, 24 RBIs and a staggering 1.161 OPS in May.
In a win over the Washington Nationals Tuesday, Betts homered twice, while driving in four runs:
Betts also homered last Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies, adding in a reminder of his defensive prowess in the bottom of the seventh inning when Odúbel Herrera dared to test his arm:
On the season, Betts is now slashing .292/.385/.578 with 12 home runs, 30 RBIs, three defensive runs saved and a .963 OPS. His 2.7 fWAR is fourth among all position players in baseball, trailing only Manny Machado, Mike Trout and Aaron Judge.
Machado is off to a staggering start, hitting .368 with a 3.5 fWAR in a season that may cement his status as a future Hall of Famer. He's unquestionably the favorite for the NL MVP right now, though a lot can (and will) change in the coming months before voters have to decide. Whether or not Betts will be able to add a senior circuit MVP in 2022 to an already overflowing trophy case remains to be seen.
But what Betts has reminded anyone who may have forgotten with his month of May is that we're watching one of the greatest right fielders in MLB history. And while Trout is unquestionably the best player of this era, Betts is probably No. 2, and deserves his flowers.