In Aruba, the average temperature in April is 81 degrees. In Boston, the average high in April is 56 degrees.
For Xander Bogaerts, who hails from Aruba, that temperature difference has been a big factor in his slow starts each season of his professional career. Last year, while with Double-A Portland, Bogaerts saw his slugging percentage jump 100 points between April and May.
This season, Bogaerts was handed the reigns at shortstop in Boston. He got off to his usual slow start in April, batting .276 with a .368 slugging percentage, disappointing those who were hoping for a Nomar-like outburst from the young rookie. But, with the arrival of warmer weather in May, Bogaerts has once again taken off, batting .297 for the month with a .451 slugging percentage. This includes a .395 average in his last 11 games.
“When I’m cold, I feel tight,” Bogaerts said. “I just can’t get loose. It’s just a weird feeling. Before you hit the ball, you just don’t feel natural. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just a weird feeling.”
Bogaerts picked a great time to start swinging a hot bat (no pun intended). A flurry of injuries the past two weeks forced John Farrell to readjust his batting order, resulting in Bogaerts moving up to the two-hole. He’s made Farrell look pretty smart, as he’s been on base consistently, providing RBI opportunities for Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.
While the signing of Stephen Drew will affect Bogaerts’ position in the field, it should have no bearing on his position in the batting order. If there is a correlation between the warm weather and his increased offensive production, Bogaerts should only get better as the team gets deeper into the season. He may have found a permanent home near the top of the order, even with the eventual return of Shane Victorino.
No player likes to play in the cold, but for some it is more difficult than for others. Thankfully, most of the season is played in the summer. And, to steal a David Ortiz quote from a few weeks back: When the weather heats up, Papi Bogey heats up.