Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaert is racking up the hits
Boston tagged Blue Jays starter Ross Stripling for a run when Bogaerts reached on an infield single with two outs in the first inning and was driven in by a Rafael Devers double to give the Red Sox an early lead.
The Red Sox had Stripling on the ropes in the third inning when a single to center by Bogaerts loaded the bases with only one out. Stripling escaped the jam by striking out the next two batters. Failing to come through with at least one run in that situation triggered déjà vu for a struggling lineup but it wouldn’t be much longer before the Red Sox bats would break through.
Bogaerts singled to lead off the sixth inning, starting a string of three consecutive base hits to open the frame. He came around to score on J.D. Martinez‘s base hit to reclaim the lead for the Red Sox.
Boston’s bullpen has shown that no lead is safe against this powerful Toronto lineup so some insurance runs were a welcome sign in the ninth inning. Bogaerts drove in the first of those ninth-inning runs with a base hit to left, his fourth hit of the game.
His perfect day was complete with a 4-for-4 performance that included a walk, two runs scored and an RBI.
Bogaerts now has 19 career four-hit games, tied with Hall of Famer Harry Hooper for 12th most in Red Sox history, according to Alex Speier of The Boston Globe.
This was the seventh game this season in which Bogaerts has collected at least three hits, the most in the majors this season and the most in franchise history by any Red Sox hitter through the team’s first 20 games of a season.
The four-hit game boosted Bogaerts’ batting average to a league-leading .397 this season. He also leads the majors with 29 hits. The home run power hasn’t been unlocked yet with only one long ball this season but Bogaerts is tied for fifth in the majors with seven doubles and his .534 SLG and .955 OPS would be career highs.
We’re still working with a relatively small sample size but the production from Bogaerts isn’t a fluke generated by lucky bloops falling in for hits. His 53.6 Hard Hit% and 91.1 mph average exit velocity are both career-highs that rank in the 91st percentile, according to Baseball Savant.
He isn’t mashing homers but Xander is hammering the ball this season. Perhaps this approach is by design. Between humidors now being used in every stadium and whispers of higher seams on the baseball creating more drag on fly balls, power numbers have been dwindling to begin this season. Swinging for the fences has led to disappointing results for many hitters but hitting hard line drives has done wonders for Bogaerts.
While his batting average is hovering near the .400 mark, we have a long way to go before we can get excited about Bogaerts challenging Ted Williams for the last major league player to reach that lofty average in a full season.
His first career batting title could be within reach though, as well as his fifth Silver Slugger award. It’s early, but we’re seeing signs of Bogaerts putting together a career season leading up to his opportunity to opt-out of his contract to test free agency this winter.