Xander Bogaerts was the Boston Red Sox’s hottest hitter in May, posting a .327 batting average and .407 on-base percentage. He since has hit a rough patch, batting just .163 with a .217 on-base percentage through 10 June games.
It’s possible — perhaps likely — that Bogaerts, who is 0-for-16 with five strikeouts over his last four games entering Thursday’s contest against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park, would have fallen into a slump regardless of all other factors. Such is the life of a 21-year-old rookie. But because there was so much debate surrounding shortstop Stephen Drew’s return to the Red Sox and Bogaerts’ shift to third base, there inevitably are questions about whether there’s a direct correlation between Bogaerts’ offensive struggles and his position change.
“Good question. I don’t know,” Bogaerts told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier on Wednesday in Baltimore when asked that very question. “I was hitting good at short. But I really don’t think so.
“It’s just a matter of maybe a bit more work over there at third. I’m not saying I lost my focus on hitting, but sometimes you tend to try to fix things more over there. It was something new to me this year, so I wanted to get it in as soon as possible and learn everything on the fly. But I don’t know. It’s a good question, but I don’t think so.”
Bogaerts has started nine games at third base this season, and he’s hitting .184 (7-for-38) with a .244 on-base percentage in those contests. It’s worth noting Boagaerts has three multihit games and two home runs in that span, but as long as he struggles offensively, there will be those who point to his position change and the increased defensive preparation that comes with such a move as reasoning for the woes. In reality, according to Bogaerts, his troubles might be the result of something simpler.
“I’m seeing great pitches,” Bogaerts told Speier. “Just sometimes your bat doesn’t want to come out. It’s a weird feeling to explain. Sometimes I go up there saying I’m going to hit the first pitch, he throws it right down the middle and I just don’t do anything with it. It’s OK. It’s part of the game.
“I’ve been getting so many good pitches. It’s just my bat — I’m losing my barrel. It’s just small stuff, but you can’t miss your pitches up here in the big leagues. But it’s all right. I’ll be fine.”
Bogaerts’ confidence is one thing that’s unwavering regardless of his position or what recent box scores say.