The Boston Red Sox duo of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are slumping at the most delightful of times – a pennant push.
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September has not been a kind month for Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, with a slash of .208/.264/.292 to go along with no home runs and eight RBI – all from his newly minted role in the clean-up spot. Batting fourth is the traditional spot of the “Heavy Hitters” and Betts is slumping. Of course, after a .378 August, just about anything is a slump.
Betts is not alone. Xander Bogaerts‘ bat has had an all-points bulletin issued regarding its disappearance that happened just prior to August. Ah, August, and a delightful .219 for Bogaerts, but alarm thee not – XB has surged to .228 for September. The September push is on and these guys are killing us!
Leading off and setting the table is Dustin Pedroia, who is now a serious contender in the batting race. A “Who’d thunk it” moment from where Dustin was a mere three weeks ago. Sandwiched between Bogaerts and Betts is David Ortiz and his numbers continue to impress, as does Hanley Ramirez – he of 450′ blasts – having a power revival at the number five position in the order.
Betts was a hot name – and “was” is the optimum word – for a Most Valuable Player Award. That is going south quicker than the migrating birds as the one time RBI machine has suddenly become the invisible man.
Was it the change? Betts was sent to the honored position and certainly responded initially, but that has come to a grinding halt or at least a very slow trickle of production. The mess around with the lineup put Jackie Bradley into a funk, hitting a disappointing .207 in the 5th slot and a slightly more respectable .261 in sixth. Bradley is back to his most familiar and successful location – dead last in the order with a .349 average. Sometimes change is not good.
Does manager John Farrell need to tinker and toy with the line-up? Players are notorious for having clearly defined parameters in the batting order and often express their frustration with dismal production or public displays of ire. Betts certainly is excluded from that.
Mix and match may work reasonably well if you are in the grocery store taking advantage of a sale but in a line-up? Just where is the line drawn where Farrell has to rearrange the batting configurations to get some steady production? Of course, just moving around is no guaranteed cure since a slump has a tendency to follow you around like an aggressive bill collector.
Since I am loaded with opinions – and many will certainly say I am loaded with something else – I would go with the status quo for the remainder of this rather abbreviated home schedule. Betts feasts on the O’s staff like Henry the VIII would on a slab of mutton. One more game to take the O’s staff to the vivisection room.
Then the New York Yankees come to town and Betts has some very nice numbers against the suddenly surging bombers. A .278 average and six home runs are impressive enough to keep everything stable – at least through the weekend.
The other issue is Bogaerts, who is in a prolonged slump, or is it just a return to the lackluster batting on 2014? Time will certainly tell on that one, but the team is winning where XB is and that certainly means no immediate change. I could, however, see Betts being tossed into the second slot and Bogaerts dropped to the depths of the order.
My panic button has not been depressed – yet, but a sudden loss of three or four games to the Yankees – all centered on offense – could change the dynamics. Right now change is not good, but next week that may just flip.