Now one of the veterans on the team, Xander Bogaerts will be a key component to the Red Sox run this season. But can we believe that his hot spring training start is a sign?
Remember way back in 2013 when Xander Bogaerts was the fresh face on the Boston Red Sox? Fast forward five years to now and he is now one of the veterans on this team and also a leader.
But everything about how Bogaerts finished last season screamed that he is a different player.
Now, coming into 2018, nobody is talking about Bogaerts in the same company. So what happened?
Well, for starters, Bogaerts saw his batting average drop 20 points and his OPS drop nearly 50 points. But the main reason for that was injuries. The Aruba native was never healthy after suffering a hand injury early in the season. He even discussed it earlier this offseason.
For all Red Sox fans, it was pretty obvious that Bogaerts was not the same player in the second half. So why did so many people abandon the Bogaerts ship this offseason?
Everybody knows how strong of a hitter he is. When healthy, he can hit to all parts of the field for a .300 average. It was only two years ago when he hit .320 and played 156 games for the Red Sox.
There is plenty of reason to believe he is still that player and we have started to see it early on in spring training.
In 18 at bats this spring, he is hitting .500 with one home run and three RBI’s. He is complimenting that with a 1.383 OPS. It is not wise to judge teams based off their spring training results, but there is plenty to take out of a player’s performance during spring training.
But can Bogaerts translate that into the real games this year?
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The addition of JD Martinez to the lineup can help take some pressure off of Bogaerts. Martinez can hit for average just as well as he can hit for power. There was a lot of pressure on Bogaerts last season in the absence of David Ortiz. Most of that will be taken off of his shoulders this season.
He will probably bat in the bottom half of the order to begin the season, but that is good for him. There is even a good chance on him batting behind Martinez this year, mainly because his ability to just flat-out hit. But even if he drops below Rafael Devers into the sixth spot in the lineup, he will get to see even more fastballs.
The most encouraging thing to see out of Bogaerts this spring is that he is solidly driving the ball and not just hitting dinkers into the outfield grass.
There is plenty of reason to believe that Bogaerts is healthy in 2018. And if the Red Sox get the healthy Xander Bogaerts again, look out. He is out to prove he is in the top class of shortstops and we know he is.
Stay with BoSox Injection for all updates on the Red Sox during spring training!