Xander Bogaerts is the best shortstop in the league and is overlooked by many. He came up in the Sox system and people marked him as a guy who had a 30 homer bat. The power hasn’t been there up to this stage in his career but even if he doesn’t develop into a power hitter, Bogaerts is as good as it gets in the batters box in baseball. While teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. has a 27 game hitting streak, some may not know that Bogaerts has the second longest hitting streak in baseball at 16 games.
Bogaerts has recorded a hit in 28 of his last 30 games and leads the American League in batting average at .346. During his hit streak he is hitting .403 with five doubles, three homers and four RBI’s. The most impressive part of the streak is the three homers. While Bogaerts was tabbed as a guy who had power potential down on the farm, that power has never shown at the big league level.
Is Bogaerts the Best Shortstop?
Many said Bogaerts could eventually develop into a 30 homer bat at a shortstop position where that type of power is very hard to come by. To put it in perspective, the last time a shortstop hit 30 homers in a season was in 2011, done so by Troy Tulowitzki and J.J Hardy. If Bogaerts ends up hitting 30 homers in multiple seasons, he may end up being one of the best offensive shortstops ever to play the game. Still 23 years old, Bogaerts could end up hitting in the 20-25 homer range at best. I do not see that happening until at least 25 years old though as he continues to evolve as a major league hitter. If the power doesn’t develop, what is Bogaerts potential?
Sox fans may remember a guy named Derek Jeter. When watching Bogaerts hit all I can think of is Jeter. They both spray the ball all over the field and are extremely tough to get out. The most homers Jeter hit in a season was 24, done so in 1999, his fifth season in the big leagues. Bogaerts is in his fourth season this year and will likely finish around 15-20 homers. Jeter got off to a faster start in his major league career than Bogaerts but Bogaerts figured it out last season having a better third season than Jeter had.
The comparison to Jeter may come off as far fetched but having the luxury of watching both of them play has been awesome and they are both very similar hitters offensively. Bogaerts still has a lot of time to cement his own legacy in the game and his great season last year followed by his torrid start this season should have Sox fans excited as we may have the new Jeter wearing number two in a Sox uniform.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. shows his patience at the plate! Photo courtesy of www.csnne.com
Have you ever been to a lower level baseball game, like a high school or even little league game? If you have, I can guarantee that you’ve heard someone at some point yell at the batter, “make him pitch to you!” I can also promise that you’ve probably seen the kid swinging at the air, chasing pitches, because he was too impatient to wait for a good pitch. What is the result? Most likely the batter strikes out and goes back to the bench.
Patience at the plate is key, yet it is one of the most challenging things for young players to remember.
Why is patience so important?
If the batter waits for a quality pitch, the pitcher’s pitch count will go up. This results in the pitcher getting tired faster, thus causing more bad pitches creating more batters to walk.
Waiting for a good pitch allows the batter to see more pitches. Seeing more pitches makes it easier to find the right pitch for the batter to knock it out of the park. Also, waiting makes the batter more familiar with the pitcher.
Pitchers tend to get frustrated when batters aren’t swinging. Frustrated pitchers end up making mistakes.
Batters can’t score if they strike out. Working up the pitch count can end up in a walk more often than not. A walk puts the batter on base where he’ll be able to score.
Patience at the plate is extremely important for speedier players. If they can get to first base on a walk, they’re an even bigger threat to steal.
The takeaway: If the batter tires out the pitcher, they’re more likely to score.
Usually, younger players are not collectively known for being patient at the plate. However, on Monday’s Opening Day game against the Yankees, the Red Sox saw 22 year old rookie Jackie Bradley, Jr. staying very calm and keeping his patience at the plate. As a result, he had 3 of the 8 Red Sox walks in the game. Pitchers are going to hate this kid. He’s a young player with patience and a lot of speed. He’s going to be stealing left and right, but only if he stays patient and gets on base. Lucky for Red Sox fans, he can hit, too. So as long as he stays patient on base as well as at the plate, he’ll be golden.
Bradley Jr.’s walks were part of the plate-patience effort of the Red Sox that led Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia to tire out early. Thanks to team patience, we’re able to celebrate an Opening Day 8-2 victory for the Sox.
Let’s just hope that his plate patience rubs off on the rest of the team!