Xander Bogaerts is young, talented, and struggling as of late. According to an article written by Jared Carrabis, the problem for Bogaerts is his inability to hit breaking balls. Since June 1st, the Aruban rookie is hitting .158. When compared to the .304 he hit in March, April and May, the difference is night and day.
Now granted that he is hitting .158 in his last 241 at-bats, the question at hand is whether or not he should start for the Boston Red Sox in 2015. Right now, the chances are not looking so high.
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For Bogaerts, his soft spot has been revealed — he can’t hit the curve.
There have been a number of talented players who have had their careers ruined by such a small blemish. Take Pete Gray for example. Gray who was born with just one arm was an outfielder for the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) in 1945. He played 77 games for the Browns as a 30-year-old rookie and then his Major League career was over. After the 40th game of his career when he slashed .260/.312/.305 things started to go downhill. Once pitchers really started to expose his weakness which was his inability to hit breaking balls, he was done for. Ending his career with a slash line of .218/.259/.261, breaking balls ruined his career.
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Bogaerts is a completely different case than Pete Gray, but much can be learned from Gray’s story. First of all, Bogaerts has the potential to fix his problem whereas Gray could not because of the way he was born. Also, Gray was 30-years-old whereas Bogaerts is only 21. The relevance of Gray however is the fact that players need to hit the curve to make it in the Major Leagues.
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In case Bogaerts continues to struggle with these pitches, Boston should have some sort of a plan B for shortstop in 2015. Even if it is as simple as Brock Holt or keeping Jonathan Herrera in the organization, shortstop is a position in which Boston needs depth. Although it is clear someday Xander Bogaerts will be a phenomenal Major League Baseball player, he still needs to learn how to either hit breaking balls or not chase them when they are dropping out of the strike zone.