Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts Providing Powerful 1-2 Punch For Red Sox


Sep 14, 2014

mookie betts xander bogaertsHave the Boston Red Sox found their table-setters of the future?

It would be unwise to read too much into a meaningless September series, but outfielder/second baseman Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts’ performances this weekend must have Red Sox fans excited.

Batting in the top two spots in the Red Sox’s order, the rookies went a combined 12-for-35 (.343) in four games against the Kansas City Royals, including 5-for-9 with a walk, a home run, four RBIs and four runs scored in Sunday’s series-ending 8-4 win.

Each reached base in three of their five plate appearances and scored twice, and Bogaerts provided the big bat, clubbing a three-run, third-inning homer as part of a four-RBI afternoon.

“What (Bogaerts) and Mookie are doing at the top of the order has been impressive,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters after Sunday’s game. “For the age that they are, the stage of their career that they are, it’s very impressive to see two young guys of that age performing like they are as consistently as they are. Mookie with some excellent baserunning. Those two guys at the top of the order are doing an excellent job.”

Betts showcased that baserunning prowess by going from first to third on a Bogaerts single in the ninth inning, and he’s also had the chance to prove himself defensively at his natural position — second base — with Dustin Pedroia shut down for the season.

But the real story has been Bogaerts.

His batting average was hovering around .220 late last month, and some were ready to ship the 21-year-old back to Triple-A Pawtucket. Then something strange happened. Bogaerts was nailed in the head by a Felix Hernandez pitch Aug. 22, spent a stint on the seven-day concussion disabled list and now looks like an entirely different player.

In 16 games since returning from the DL, Bogaerts is hitting .359 with five doubles, four homers, 11 RBIs and nine runs scored. His four runs driven in Sunday marked a career high, and he carries an eight-game hitting streak into the Red Sox’s forthcoming series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“It’s weird,” Bogaerts said. “Maybe it was a good time to reflect, get away from the game a little bit after all the struggles that I was going through.”

Bogaerts’ recent power numbers have been especially surprising, given that one-third of his 12 home runs this season have within the last 13 games. The infielder didn’t attribute the improvement to any adjustment in his swing or plate approach but said he’s felt much more relaxed with the bat in his hand of late.

“I’m just trying to finish the season strong,” he said. “… Instead of just always staying within yourself, I’m just trying to go out and get one sometimes. And I’ve been fortunate to get some.”

A number of factors — namely, the returns of Pedroia and Brock Holt — will contribute to whether the Betts-Bogaerts duo is a possibility for the future or just a late-season experiment. But from what we’ve seen so far, the kids are all right.

Photo via Peter Aiken/USA TODAY Sports Images

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