Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts provided outstanding production against the division rival Tampa Bay Rays this season.
The Boston Red Sox are done with the Tampa Bay Rays. We haven’t hit September yet and these division rivals have already completed all 18 games of their season series. We’ve had enough of these Rays after they became the first team this season to sweep the Red Sox. However, there is one player who may wish there were more games scheduled against Tampa Bay.
Xander Bogaerts has loved facing the Rays this year. The star shortstop hit a blistering .385 with a 1.123 OPS in 65 at-bats against Tampa Bay. He racked up 12 doubles, a triple and a pair of home runs while driving in 16 RBI in those 18 games.
That is by far the highest batting average Bogaerts has produced against any team this season. That’s saying something considering he’s batting at least .300 against six different teams. His OPS is the third highest against any team, trailing only what he produced against the Washington Nationals (1.389 OPS in three games) and Kansas City Royals (1.180 OPS in six games). His 12 doubles are the most he’s tallied against any one team in any season of his career.
Bogaerts has thrived against the Rays but that hasn’t been the case for the team. The Red Sox lineup hit a collective .229/.304/.352 against Tampa Bay. Each of those figures is well below their league-leading season slash line of .268/.336/.456.
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J.D. Martinez is the only other Red Sox player batting above .300 vs the Rays. Rafael Devers is the only other player with an OPS above .850, thanks in large part to his three home runs against the Rays. Devers’ .994 OPS came in only 12 games since he missed the two most recent series against Tampa Bay. That production came against a very different Rays team than the one that has steamrolled over the American League over the last few weeks.
Not much went right for the Red Sox in last weekend’s series in Tampa Bay. Boston was outscored 24-5 in the three-game sweep. Even Bogaerts couldn’t muster any offense against All-Star Blake Snell, who owns a minuscule 1.06 ERA at home this season. Bogaerts did go 4-for-8 with two RBI in the first two games of the series though.
Bogaerts is having a career-year at the plate, batting .284 with a .877 OPS, 19 home runs, and 84 RBI. Clearly, it’s not only the Rays he’s producing against but padding his stats against their pitching staff has helped.
The Red Sox need a strong finish for Bogaerts to ensure their shrinking division lead doesn’t slip away but he’ll need to do it without facing his favorite opponent.