Boston Red Sox player preview 2018: A return to form for Xander Bogaerts

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Xander Bogaerts
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Xander Bogaerts /

One player looking to return to form at the plate for the Boston Red Sox in 2018 is shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

The 2017 season was somewhat of an offensive dud for the Boston Red Sox. Home runs were a rarity and, despite winning the A.L. East, the team often failed to find a steady rhythm at the plate.

Count Xander Bogaerts among the Boston players looking to get back on track.

The 25-year old shortstop was riding an upward trajectory heading into 2017. Bogaerts was coming off a career-season in 2016. He drove in 89 runs and hit 21 home runs to go along with a .802 OPS and .294 batting average.

To say 2017 was a disappointment would be a mild understatement. Bogaerts began with a bang, hitting .314 in the months of May and June. The month of May saw him hit three triples for the Red Sox. Coupled with five home runs, 19 doubles, and 21 runs batted in, 2017 was shaping up to a fine statistical season for Bogaerts.

July and August was a completely different story, with Bogaerts going only 35-177 (.197) from the plate and driving in only 16 runs.

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The trend was enough to knock down Bogaerts’ overall stats. He finished with .273 batting average, 10 home runs, 62 RBI’s, and grounded into 17 double plays. Bogaerts’ performance also dipped in the field, where he committed 17 errors and had a career-low .969 fielding percentage.

The Boston Red Sox will need much more from Bogaerts in 2018.

2018 preview

An injury to his hand likely played a part in the decline of Bogaerts in 2017, as did former manager John Farrell‘s penchant for playing with the lineup.

Bogaerts took the majority of his at-bats from the one, three and six holes in 2017. All spots saw various forms of success, but the leadoff spot might be the spot for him.

While Mookie Betts spent a majority of the year at that spot, I’d rather see Betts at the two or three spot in the lineup. Betts has displayed more power over the years and does have a better ability to drive in runs.

If Bogaerts is setting the table — especially by returning to 2016 form — the Red Sox will be better off. It’s a smaller sample size, but in 110 at-bats in 2017 from the leadoff spot, Bogaerts hit .309 and had an OBP of .406.

A fully healthy Bogaerts should put up numbers similar to those of 2016. The Boston Red Sox were on fire at the plate that season, catching lighting in a bottle in an all-out-effort to send David Ortiz out a champion.

Can Bogaerts — and others — duplicate their success from that season? They are fully capable and need to get close if Boston wants to stay on par with the Houston Astros.

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I predict Bogaerts will get there again, hitting .300 with 15 home runs and 85 RBI’s. This number could jump even higher depending on where he lands in the line up.

And if all goes according to plan, Bogaerts will get to 200 hits with Boston having success as well, all in effort to put the dysfunctional and disappointing 2017 season behind him.