Can Xander Bogaerts Sustain His Success?

The 2015 Boston Red Sox’ offense has been a disappointment. There are a few bright spots, especially at shortstop. Can Xander Bogaerts sustain his success? Rick Rowand looks how he compiled his numbers this year and last year to see if there’s reason for optimism.

Through 55 games this year, Xander Bogaerts is hitting .296/.340/.402 with a BABIP of .338. Last year at this time, he was hitting .293/.384/.444 through 60 games with a BABIP of .381. After his hot start, and move a to 3B, he ended the year hitting .240/.297/.362 with a BABIP of .296. The question everyone is asking is, “will he have a big drop off like he had last year?”.

For a few reasons, my answer is probably not. One reason is that his BABIP this year at .338 is much closer to the league average of .300. Another reason is that his K rate is at 13.7%, which is much better than the 23.3% rate he had last year at this time. It is also true that his BB rate is 5.9% so far this year, which is much lower than the 10.1% he had last year at the same time. That is lower than the average and needs to be closer to 8% or higher.

But one thing really struck me. Bogaerts has become a much more balanced hitter this year than he was at the same time last year. He is hitting to all fields at almost the same percentage (pull 32.9%, center 34.1%, and opposite field 32.9%). Last year it was pull 48.5%, center 33.3%, and opposite field 18.2%. This change could also be why his line drive percentage is currently at 16.1% and his hard hit ball percentage is at 28%. Last year at this time, the numbers were LD 21.8% and HHB 43%. Chili Davis might be stressing contact and that would result in the huge difference. This is all reflected in his spray charts. So far this year, he has 20 hits and two triples to the right of a line that runs from home plate through 2B and CF. Last year, in the entire season, he had 21 hits and two home runs in the same area. Here are the charts from this year and from all of last season:

XB HT 2015 XB BB 2015

XB HT 2014

XB BB 2014

Another advantage to his balanced hitting approach is that the opposing defense is not able to overshift on him like they do with dead pull hitters. Ideally, Bogaerts would hit for more power and add a couple more percentage points to his BB rate, but this is an excellent step in his development toward becoming a more complete hitter.

*stats courtesy of fangraphs.com

Author Rick Rowand has also looked at Rick Porcello’s inconsistencies and pitching coach Carl Willis.

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Check out Cheryl Wright’s May review of MLB action.

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