NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.
He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.
The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.
This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.
And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.
"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.
"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."
Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.
"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."
Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.
Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.
"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."
It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.
In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.
Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.