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As the Weather Gets Warmer, Bogaerts Gets Colder

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

Xander Bogaerts has played a vital role for the Boston Red Sox since joining them in 2014. He commands the infield at shortstop and bats in multiple spots in the lineup before settling into the No. 3 hole, when he’s hitting.

In the previous two seasons, Bogaerts has received the honorable award of the Silver Slugger for his position. He posted a .320 batting average, crushed 7 home runs while knocking in 81 RBI’s in 2015. In 2016, he changed his approach at the plate with an increase in home runs (21) and RBI’s (89) and decrease in batting average (.294).

Bogaerts posted a 4.6 offensive WAR in both of those two seasons.

After a scoarching hot start this season, the X-Man as he is called in Boston, is once again struggling.

I have a two theories on what could be contributing to Boagerts second-half struggles these past two seasons.

My first is his change in approach at the plate that was evident in his 2016 campaign as Bogaerts’ home run total shot up by 14.

Last season, the BoSox shortshop faced some second-half blues after appearing in his first All-Star Game. After posting a .323 average in the first half, he saw some rough patches at the plate hitting at a mere .267 in the second half. His power numbers didn’t seem to take a hit as he posted 11 long balls in the first half and 10 in the second.

The cause of the struggles could be contributed to Bogaerts change in approach as the versatile shortshop has been going to the plate looking to drive the baseball. This approach could lead to a higher tendency to pull the ball, as you can see by the chart below, a majority of his hits since 2016 have dropped on the left side of the field. Even his power has been strictly to the left side of the field with his 27 home runs in the past two seasons not going further right than dead center-field.

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 3.46.49 PM.png

Photo Credit: fangraphs.com

At the same time, the singles have been dropping and the dingers have been rising. In 2015, Bogaerts lead the American League with 151 singles with only six homers, while in 2016 he dropped to 132 singles and rose to 21 homers. So far this year, 70 of his 100 hits have been singles while only totaling six homers in the first half.

The evident issue going into the summer months  is his lack of power as he has only knocked six home runs this year. His batting average has even been depleting since May dropping him below .300 for the year at .295. He batted .351 in May, then .277 in June – plummeting to .163 in July (including post All-Star break).

In Bogaerts’ 2015 season, where he was a singles machines, it was because he had a higher tendency to sit on a ball and poke it the other way for a single. Taking a look at his 2015 spray chart, you can see the clusters of singles to right and center field showing the patience at the plate to consistently hit the ball to all fields. other theory to his second half struggles is his tendencies to struggle against the his AL East opponents on the road. His batting average is .262 in those road games.

chart

Photo Credit: fangraphs.com

Bogaerts has immensely struggled at both Yankee Stadium and Tropicana Field this season, only collecting three hits (all singles) in 19 at-bats. He has never seemed to have an issue at Rogers Centre as he’s batting at a .350 clip in the l

The reason this may cause issues down the road is because the Red Sox have 33 games (more than half their games left) against AL East opponents, 18 of those 33 games are on the road.

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Bogaerts is a threat to the pitcher every time he steps into the batter’s box. Every tremendous hitter has their ups and downs, but the most important thing is to have the end goal in mind, despite not contributing in the manner you believe you’re capable of. But, Bogaerts is an evident leader in the lineup as he doesn’t let his skids at the plate effect his team as a whole as the Red Sox remain at the top of the AL East with a record of 54-43.

Bogaerts returned to the line-up yesterday batting in the 6th hole after sitting out for two consecutive games due to a muscle contusion and sprained right hand.

 

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