Position Player: Xander Bogaerts
I had a really difficult time choosing a position player for this series. The Red Sox are loaded with talent throughout their roster. They have the perfect mixture of talented youth and veterans that are sprinkled in to make for a contender.
I debated going with Hanley Ramirez or Dustin Pedroia because of their histories against the Phillies. Both have had their successes when playing the Phils. Then, there is the youth movement with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts. Oddly enough, I did not mention Mitch Moreland, who leads the team in on-base percentage and RBI.
I chose a player who was nearly written off by many as a bust not long ago. It looks as though Xander Bogaerts has figured it out and is becoming the star most people thought he would be. The shortstop is trying to build off his first 20 homer 100+ run season in 2016.
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This season, Bogaerts leads the Red Sox in runs (40), hits (74), and average (.325). His .829 OPS is good enough for second on the team. He does not walk a bunch (only 18) and will strike out a good amount (39 times). However, he is dangerous and can steal bases when he does find a way on base.
He has a hit in two at-bats against Jerad Eickhoff and two in six at-bats against Jeremy Hellickson. He has actually hit better against righties than lefties this season (.330/.392/.465 vs. .302/.311/.395). He has earned 17 of his 18 walks against right-handed pitchers.
Get the fastball in on Bogaert’s hands or it is likely that he will have success. He loves the outer-half of the plate and will drive the ball the other way. He is much more susceptible to the breaking and off-speed stuff. While he is still capable of driving those pitches, he is better when he can go fastball hunting early in counts.
In a loaded Red Sox lineup, it will be interesting to see how the Phillies approach one its youngest contributors.