Monster 'fix' key to Xander Bogaerts hitting

Photo by: The Associated Press
Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

As the Red Sox lost their second straight game yesterday, Xander Bogaerts continues to tear it up at the plate.

He went 2-4 with a double, his fifth homer of the season, and an RBI.

Since May 21st, he is above the league averages at shortstop with a .390 AVG, a .455 OBP, and a .678 SLG.

He is first in WAR when ranking all of Major League for the shortstop position, 10th for all of MLB regardless of position, and the next Red Sox player is Dustin Pedroia at 22nd.

Even the move to third base did not seem to slow him down or cause confusion with Stephen Drew being forced into the lineup.

What was the problem you ask?

The Green Monster.

For a right-handed hitter like Bogaerts, with his natural power stroke to right-center, the Monster was a tempting, taunting distraction.

When asked how much the Monster was in his thoughts at the plate early in the season he said, “A lot, I always used to tell the hitting coaches that, because my hips would fly open. Not wanting to do it, but just knowing that the wall is there just plays with your mind. And your mind is very important in this game.”

He struggled in the first half of May with a pull-happy approach that caused him to miss pitches on the outer half of the plate — his self-described 'happy zone.' At one point he even mentioned that he had hit more to left field in the first weeks of this season than in his whole minor-league career.

So what has changed?

Bogaerts did more early work with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez and hitting coach Greg Colbrunn, but the drills and the message were the same: Stay middle of the field.

Now he seems to be translating it from the batting cage to the batters box.

The question is can he make the Monster work for him at Fenway?

Of course Bogaerts possesses the offensive talent and acumen to eventually make the wall work for him. His home run on Tuesday night, a first-pitch fastball, showed that he’s got quick enough hands to turn on a ball.

Can you imagine what will happen when he can start to leverage that all-field power?

Last season the PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina stated, "He’s got plus power. It’s only going to blossom when he learns to start pulling balls..."

Looks like Bogaerts has already starting connecting the dots.

Post a comment or via twitter @ericschabell with your thoughts.

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