With all of the frustration that came during their 11-game West coast trip, the Red Sox saw the continued emergence of the team’s best hitter.
Early in the season, Xander Bogaerts made the case that he was the best hitter -- in the league -- leading the bigs in hits and average.
And he’s still a great hitter, despite hitting a major rough patch in the last 11 games. And while he provides great value, being an offensively gifted shortstop, it almost seems like if it rains with Bogaerts, it’s pouring -- good or bad.
Some still think David Ortiz is the best hitter on the team.
Honestly, the numbers make the case that he is.
He’s hitting .309 (17th best in MLB, 6th in AL and 3rd on the Red Sox), with a .397 on-base percentage (10th best in all of baseball) and leads all of baseball in both slugging percentage (.617) and OPS (1.014)
Not to mention he’s in baseball’s top-20 in homeruns with 25, second in RBI with 87 and leads everyone in doubles with 36, too.
But the problem with Ortiz without question is his durability. Come playoff time -- if the Sox get there -- he’ll survive. But Ortiz’s performance has begun to fade, as well. Since July, Boston’s DH is hitting .243 (26-for-107) with a .311 OBP and .486 slugging percentage. The decline had to be expected given his age and general discomfort when playing.
Now it has become clear who the Red Sox offense needs to be centered around -- Mookie Betts.
Boston’s leadoff hitter finds himself near the top of every offensive category, not just in the AL, but all of baseball.
He’s tied for the 12th highest RBI count (74), in the top-25 in homeruns (23), 15th in batting average (.311), 18th in slugging (.545) and tied for 5th in doubles (31). Not mention he has 18 stolen bases in 21 tries.
Again, those are his rankings in all of baseball, not the AL or among other leadoff hitters. Statistics don’t always tell the story, but his numbers are staggering. And if you look at his monthly splits, he’s been consistent. April was a down month in average (.266), but strong everywhere else. He had a jump in homers in May with eight. And in July he had a huge jump in average in July (.368).
It doesn’t hurt that he’s riding a nine-game hitting streak and is 15-for-38 (.395) with three doubles and three home runs during it.
With the offense inconsistent of late, his model for consistency is something Boston needs now more than ever, and may be best served at the third spot in the lineup, especially since he doesn’t walk much (.352 OBP).
On top of Betts being so young, the other thing Boston can look forward to: he’s the one Killer B who isn’t represented by Scott Boras.
So it’s safe to assume he could be the Red Sox’ marquee bat for a long time.
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar