Hannable: Forget Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts’ sudden power surge is most important thing for Red Sox

Ryan Hannable
May 18, 2018 - 12:13 am

Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

There’s no question, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are the two best hitters on the Red Sox and have both been on tears of late, but someone else is quietly in the midst of a strong run as well.

Xander Bogaerts.

The shortstop hit his second home run in as many nights on Thursday in the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Orioles and is now batting .313 on the season. For as good as Betts and Martinez have been, if Bogaerts can continue to hit with the power he’s displayed of late, it could mean big things are coming for the Red Sox.

While they may not be able to continue their current paces, Betts and Martinez will likely be able to carry out their strong starts at the plate through the entire season. What was unknown was how would the lineup look behind them, especially in the middle of the order besides Hanley Ramirez.

Over the years the Red Sox’ lineup has been deep, but if Bogaerts can continue to hit, and hit for power like he has, this has the potential to be one of the best lineups in recent Red Sox history and has the chance to cause serious damage.

“One thing that got my attention when I finally was able to talk to him was how physical he is,” manager Alex Cora said afterwards. “I was with Carlos [Correa] the whole year last year. These guys at shortstop now, they’re a lot different. Obviously Manny [Machado], Xander, Carlos, even Francisco [Lindor] who is shorter but a strong individual, so you talk to the guys, you talk to Mookie [Betts] and Jackie [Bradley Jr.] and they mention that throughout the minor leagues, Xander, the sound of his bat was different. In batting practice, he’ll put on a show. 

“We feel like he can do this consistently. It’s just a matter of getting his pitches in the zone and driving. So far, he’s done a good job with it.”

With players like Betts, Ramirez, Andrew Benintendi, Martinez, and even potentially Mitch Moreland hitting in front of him, there are going to be plenty of opportunities to drive in runs for Bogaerts. In the past, he has done an OK job with that, but nothing like we’ve seen so far this year.

Bogaerts has six homers this season, which are more than half of what he had all of last season (10). In 28 games, he’s averaged a home run every 19 at-bats, which comes following averaging a homer every 47.41 at-bats over the first five years of his career. His first home run of the season last year came in his 42nd game of the year.

Clearly, there’s a lot more power this year.

“I feel good,” he said after Wednesday’s game. “It’s a new year. Made an adjustment. Feel good.

In addition, Bogaerts seems to have a knack for hitting home runs with runners on and making them count. The Red Sox are 5-1 on the year when he homers. Thursday was his fourth homer with multiple runners on base and of his 57 career homers, 10 have driven in three or more runs.

This could come into play more and more this season with the potential of him consistently stepping to the plate with multiple runners on given who is hitting in front of him.

All of this isn’t even mentioning Dustin Pedroia will be added to the mix in the near future, too.

So while Betts and Martinez could potentially be competing for MVP votes as the year goes on with tremendous years, in a way, Bogaerts’ success may be more important for the overall success of the Red Sox.