X Marks the Spot

23 years of age, and arguably the best hitter in the league. The Aruban born, Xander Bogaerts has proven to all of baseball that he deserves to be said with the likes of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Jose Altuve. Currently, Bogaerts is hitting an AL best .359, after going 10 for 18 over the weekend against the Minnesota Twins. The stud shortstop also blasted 2 homeruns and tallied 8 RBIs, showing fans that he has some surprising pop in his bat. Typically, shortstops in the MLB are defensive specialists and lack the type of bat control that Bogaerts possess. Bogaerts is head and shoulders above the rest of the shortstops in the league. His .359 average is .032 points better than the second best hitting shortstop, Eduardo Nunez. He also leads all shortstops in All-star votes, making him the front-runner to represent the Red Sox in the All-Star game. Bogaerts’ hard work has certainly paid off and has propelled him to MVP status, but who can we thank for his spectacular play as of late?

Many of you will say that Red Sox hitting coach, Chili Davis has a lot to do with Bogaerts’ success. This fact would be hard to deny. The first year Davis was hired, Bogaerts increased his average from .240 to .320, ending the year as the best hitting shortstop in the league.  Those statistics have continued to trend upwards, as he has taken the next step in his development. So yes, Davis has a lot to do with Bogaerts’ success, but there is still one other person that we should thank.

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“Big Papi”, David Ortiz has without a doubt been a main reason for Bogaerts’ success. Hitting in front of Ortiz allows many opportunities for the young shortstop to see good pitches. The looming shadow of Ortiz’s bat on-deck scares almost every pitcher into submission. Because of Papi’s shear power, pitchers know that with one swing of the bat, a ball game could drastically change. With Bogaerts in front of Ortiz in the lineup, pitchers will elect to throw to Bogaerts instead of having to face Ortiz with runners on. It is as simple as that. The three-four combination of Bogaerts and Ortiz rivals the 2007 combination of Manny Ramirez and Big Papi.

With Ortiz’s retirement right around the corner, it is interesting to think whether or not Bogaerts can keep up his hot hitting into next year. Without Ortiz’s bat behind him, Bogaerts will be the one that Red Sox nation depends on. Even with Ortiz’s retirement, Red Sox fans should not be worried about a Bogaerts decline. We can thank Davis and Ortiz for all their help, but Bogaerts is a talent that baseball hasn’t seen for a while. Bogaerts has an uncanny ability to pick out the perfect pitch for him and split the gaps. His head discipline and patience at the plate makes him the best hitter in the league. There are many people to thank for Bogaerts’ success, but the ‘X-man’ is the one we should be thanking the most. Without Bogaerts, the Sox would be nowhere near contention. His bat in the middle of the lineup will continue to be vital to the Red Sox success going into the dog days of summer. Look for Bogaerts to continue his torrid start and prove to everyone that he is the best shortstop in the league.

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