Bogaerts wins a batting title
Mookie Betts is the reigning AL batting champion but one of his teammates could supplant him with the league’s best average this year. No, not J.D. Martinez, the runner-up to Betts last year. This season it will be Xander Bogaerts.
You wouldn’t expect a career .284 hitter to be the frontrunner for the batting title but there are reasons to believe Bogaerts can make that leap. He’s shown the ability to hit for average in the past, finishing second in the league with a .320 average in 2015.
Bogaerts sacrificed a bit of batting average for more power the following year when he hit 21 home runs and topped a .800 OPS for the first time in his career. He maintained a more than respectable .294 average and made his lone All-Star appearance that year.
His 2017 season was ruined when Bogaerts was hit on the hand by a pitch in early July. He was hitting .308 at the time but that average quickly spiraled as Bogaerts attempted to play through the injury. He finished the year hitting .273 while also seeing a drastic dip in his power numbers.
Bogaerts bounced back last season, raising his average to .288 and setting career highs with 23 home runs, 103 RBI, and a .883 OPS. This was the production we expected when Bogaerts was a top prospect, a shortstop who could hit for average with power.
Now that Bogaerts has proven capable of doing both, he’ll aim to continue increasing his run production totals while getting back to the lofty batting averages he showed earlier in his career. Bogaerts will be a free agent after the season, giving him some extra incentive for a career year.
Even if Bogaerts doesn’t actually win a batting title, it should surprise no one if he has the best season of his career.