Baseball is, at its core, a pretty simple sport, and one fairly basic improvement has made all the difference for Red Sox catcher Connor Wong this season.

The Boston backstop stole the show Wednesday night with a web gem in the Sox’s win over the San Francisco Giants, slightly overshadowing another sensational night at the plate. Wong collected three more hits at Fenway Park, including a pair of doubles, and drove in a run in Boston’s 6-2 win. His batting average is up to .366 for the season, and his OPS+ is up to 178 (100 is league average).

Going back to April 14, Wong had multiple hits in seven of his 13 games, hitting .396 (19-for-48) with four home runs and 10 RBIs over that stretch. The most impressive figure in that run, though, might be his strikeout totals. Wong has gone down on strikes just eight times over 52 plate appearances and had just one strikeout in his last 24 at-bats.

While the .366 batting average isn’t sustainable, especially at a position like catcher where the wear and tear intensifies over the summer, it is worth wondering whether Wong has turned over a new leaf. He entered the season with a 33.2% career strikeout rate, meaning he struck out one out of every three times he grabbed a bat. So far in 2024, that number is down to 21.3%. That is a major improvement that puts him right at league average in the 50th percentile.

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Obviously, it’s easy to make increased contact a priority but actually doing it requires some sort of a change. Looking at 2023 vs. 2024 from an untrained eye, it does look as if Wong has maybe closed his stance just a smidge, and it does appear his hands are a little lower in his stance. That theoretically makes it easier for him to get the bat moving earlier and maybe cover the zone a little more.

Even with an average exit velocity in the 10th percentile and a barrel percentage in the 49th percentile, Wong’s numbers were bound to go up by simply putting the ball in play more. For starters, he gets to play at Fenway Park, largely considered a hitter’s park. Furthermore, Wong — as he demonstrated Wednesday night — is supremely athletic not just for a catcher but for any position. He runs very well, so even when he’s not hitting the ball as hard, his speed can put pressure on fielders. It’s kind of simple, but Wong’s improved ability to put the ball in play increases his chances of having success.

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It’s probably not yet time to start engraving a Silver Slugger with his name on it, but the relative offensive renaissance has come at a perfect time. The Red Sox have been riddled with injuries, thrusting Wong into a spot in the middle of the order, and he has done well there. Even if the offense drops off a bit, the Red Sox are likely hoping it coincides with lineup reinforcements, dropping Wong down the batting order a bit. Anything resembling this production from the bottom of the order would be quite valuable.

Wong’s improvement in that one area is among the handful of various tweaks that have led to Boston improving its baseline and outperforming expectations through the first month of the season.

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Featured image via Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports