What Went Wrong With Xander Bogaerts?

Xander BogaertsThere’s no sugarcoating it—Xander Bogaerts has been terribly disappointing this year. Through 387 plate appearances, the touted 21-year-old has only managed to muster a paltry .239/.313/.357 line and 0.1 fWAR. He’s accompanied the poor offensive showing this season with dreadful defense. Unlike his offense — which looked strong in stretches — his defense has been sub-par throughout the year, whether it be at shortstop or third base. However, his mediocre defense is not the focus of this investigation, and, instead, we’ll be focusing on his offensive demise.

It was not long ago, June 5th in fact, Xander Bogaerts with his outstanding .859 OPS looked like he was on his way to his first All-Star Game. Not even two months later, his OPS has plummeted to an abysmal .664 OPS, and talks about demoting him have surfaced. Given his eye-popping minor-league track record and dominating postseason play, the fall is bewildering. Yet there’s an evident driving force behind the decline.

Way back when — well, actually April — people were on Bogaerts for his passive approach. They cited his struggles as the byproduct of lack of aggressiveness, and while everyone was griping about it, Bogaerts seemingly took it to heart. His BB% fell from an astonishing 12.3% in March and April to a very impressive, but more realistic, 10.2% the month of May. His OPS that month was a remarkable .897, compared to an adequate, OBP-driven .765 in March and April. Seeing the positive results from swinging the bat, Bogaerts likely got carried away and deviated from that approach. So it’s no surprise his BB% in June was a deplorable 2.9%, which resonated into a .426 OPS. July was better — not by much — but nevertheless better. His BB% has improved by an uptick this far in July at 4.9%, and as a result, so has his OPS at .493.

At a point he was too conservative, but he’s been the polar opposite of late and it’s cost him dearly. He’s at his best when he has discipline but still is ready to crush any mistake. Reverting back to his old self won’t be easy, however, it’s necessary if he’s to succeed in the big-leagues.

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