Xander Bogaerts will win the AL batting title
How it could happen:
This would be quite a jump for a player who hit a mere .273 last season, yet that player we saw in 2017 wasn’t the real Bogaerts. Not based on the end result, anyway.
Bogaerts began the season hot, producing a lofty batting average above .330 heading into June that put him squarely in the batting title race. His average hovered comfortably over the .300 mark as the All-Star break approached before an injury derailed his season.
Bogaerts was hit on the hand by a pitch on July 6. He entered that game hitting .308, only to see that average take a nosedive following the injury. By his own admission, Bogaerts should have taken some time off to let the injury heal. Playing through the hand issue caused a productive season to crater.
Bogaerts should enter this season healthy, allowing him to return to being the hitter he was before he was struck on the hand. We’ve seen him finish as the runner-up for the batting title when he hit .320 in 2015. Bogaerts has the ability to return to that level.
Winning a batting title means topping Jose Altuve, who has won the award in three of the last four years. That’s a tall task but not impossible if Bogaerts can return to his 2015 level. His .320 average put him just ahead of Altuve’s .313 that year. Altuve still collected 200 hits and won a Silver Slugger, so it’s not as if we have to expect a collapse for the 2017 MVP in order for Bogaerts to compete with him.