#2018inReview: Mookie Betts, David Price top area sports personalities for 2018

(Photo: Jim Davis / Boston Globe)

By RON WYNN | Nashville Voice

Nashville doesn’t have a team in Major League Baseball, but this year’s World Series winner had a definite Music City flavor.

In fact, seldom does a city that isn’t directly participating in the contest have more impact than Nashville did in 2018, which is why our two top choices for local athlete of the year are both baseball players and both members of the 2018 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

Right fielder Mookie Betts, an Overton High graduate, and a top multi-sport athlete during those days, had an incredible season.  He led all of baseball with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage, and 129 runs scored.

The Red Sox were not only dominant in the regular season, posting a 108-54 record, but cruised through the postseason, never losing two games in a row as they blew through the New York Yankees, the Houston Astros, and then the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Betts was not only named the American League’s Most Valuable Player but also earned his third consecutive Gold Glove for defensive excellence. He became the only player in American League history to win the World Series, a Gold Glove award, a Silver Slugger award, and the AL MVP in the same season. He gets the top pick as Athlete of the Year.

But pitcher David Price is a close second. Price is a Murfreesboro native who previously had three spectacular years for Vanderbilt and had enjoyed individual success over his 11-year career.

But unfortunately Price also had gained a reputation as someone who couldn’t win in the postseason. He had been involved in skirmishes with Boston media after signing a lucrative multi-year deal with the Red Sox in 2015.

Price obliterated those bad memories and forever changed his reputation in 2018. He had a fine regular season, finishing with a 16-7 record, 3.58 earned run average and striking out 177 in 176 innings. That was just a warm-up for what the Red Sox were really seeking.

 Price knew the only thing anyone would notice would be his postseason performances. After losing the second game of the Yankee series, Price bounced back against the Astros. He didn’t get a decision in Game 2, which Boston won 7-5.

But in Game 5, tapped after original starter Chris Sale was unavailable due to health reasons, Prince pitched six scoreless innings, striking out nine, and giving up three hits.

The Red Sox won 4-1, clinching the American League pennant, and their first World Series trip in five years. It was Price’s first win in 12 career postseason starts.

That was followed by a Game 2 victory over the Dodgers in the World Series. He held them to two runs on three hits and three walks, striking out five in the Red Sox’s 4-2 win. Then he came back and pitched scoreless relief in Game 3.

But the topper came in Game 5, where Price pitched into the eighth inning, allowing the Dodgers only one run. Boston won 5-1, taking the World Series. Many felt Price could and should have won the World Series MVP award.

Price decided not to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, choosing to return to the Red Sox. His great season was capped in November as he was named American League Comeback Player of the Year. Mookie Betts and David Price are our top two choices as Nashville athletes of the year.

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