By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Batting behind J.D. Martinez has its benefits. Namely, it gives a batter many extra opportunities to step to the plate with runners on base, which of course offers more opportunity to drive in runs.
But opportunity means nothing without someone being able to make the most of it. And this year, Xander Bogaerts has certainly been capitalizing whenever he’s gotten the chance, specifically when the bases have been loaded.
Bogaerts’ most recent opportunity came Tuesday night in Atlanta. Stepping to the plate with the bases loaded and the Red Sox trailing 1-0 in the top of the fifth, Bogaerts didn’t try to do too much — to the point where he didn’t have to do anything at all. Bogaerts laid off a couple of close pitches en route to working a five-pitch walk to drive in the first Red Sox run of the game. Two more runs would come in to score that inning, and the Red Sox would go on to win 5-1.
While working a walk may not have been the most impressive feat, Bogaerts’ overall numbers this season with the bases loaded have been eye-popping.
With the bases loaded, Bogaerts is batting .667 with a 1.667 slugging percentage and a 2.278 OPS. He’s blasted three grand slams in addition to belting three doubles, while also working three walks and striking out just once. With Tuesday’s walk, he’s now driven in 28 runs with the bases loaded, which leads all of MLB in such situations. That’s remarkable considering Bogaerts is tied for having the 41st-most at-bats with the bases loaded.
Forty other MLB players have had more opportunities than Bogaerts. But nobody’s taken advantage of it quite like the Red Sox’ shortstop has.
It’s not limited to bases-loaded chances, either. Bogaerts leads the majors with 80 RBIs in at-bats with runners in scoring position, besting Martinez (76) in that category. He’s driven in those runs on account of his .344 average and 1.167 OPS in his 125 at-bats with RISP.
It’s something that, in a season full of Red Sox accomplishments, really stands out a great deal. It’s a significant contributor to the Red Sox’ MLB-best offense, which has plated 757 runs — 39 more than the next-best team. And it’s something that ought to limit the intentional free passes offered to Martinez going forward, which should in turn result in some more hittable pitches being thrown toward the American League’s most dangerous hitter.