Xander Bogaerts went 4-for-5 in the Boston Red Sox‘ 9-4 win over the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. In doing so, the 21-year-old became the youngest Red Sox player to have a four-hit game since 1980, when Glenn Hoffman, also 21 at the time, had four hits on May 3 of that season in a 7-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.
The premise of that lead graph is that Bogaerts is an overwhelming splash of youth. He’s a young kid playing against grown men out there. And despite his struggles (.231 with a .648 OPS in 2014), he’s as talented as any player on the Red Sox roster, as evidenced by his strong play over the first two months of this season.
That’s why the Red Sox have been so patient with the rookie, who has endured as bad a slump as we’ve seen from a Red Sox player in recent memory. Going back to June 4 and prior to Tuesday night’s game in the Bronx, Bogaerts hit just .155 with a .424 OPS over 258 plate appearances. He had just 11 hits go for extra bases, three home runs and 14 RBIs. He had 68 strikeouts and just 12 walks. Over that span, his batting average dropped from .304 to .224, his on-base percentage from .395 to .293 and his OPS from .859 to .648.
Despite all that, he continued to get penciled into the lineup by Red Sox manager John Farrell every day. He never got sent down to the minors. For three months, he struggled at an historic level. But the Red Sox knew what they had in this kid, and it seems they could finally be getting rewarded for their patience.
Since emerging from a nine-game stretch in which he went 1-for-26 that dropped his average to .221, Bogaerts has seven hits over three games. Of those seven hits, four have gone for extra bases. He looks more comfortable at the plate, and the adjustments he needed to make when the book on him came out are starting to show. Bogaerts’ 4-for-5 night on Tuesday, in which he homered and doubled, was the attention-grabber of what has been a good string of games he’s put together.
If one thing is clear, it’s that the Red Sox remain very high on Bogaerts. While his slump has been so long and so bad, he’s shown an even-keel and veteran-like composure throughout the past three months. It’s why he was given a chance to break out of the slump and continue to get his hacks.
Finishing off his rookie season on the right note, with a strong September, would reward the Red Sox for their patience with Bogaerts.
Pat O’Rourke is a Red Sox writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter or join his network on Google.