Red Sox

These stats show Red Sox star Xander Bogaerts is legit AL MVP candidate

These stats show Red Sox star Xander Bogaerts is legit AL MVP candidate

Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts won the American League MVP last season, and one of his teammates is making a compelling case for the award in 2019.

Xander Bogaerts is the hottest player in Major League Baseball right now. The Red Sox shortstop is batting .600 (12-for-20) with four home runs, nine RBI and seven runs in the five games since the All-Star break.

Overall, Bogaerts is batting .312 with 21 homers, 74 RBI and a .399 on-base percentage. He's been Boston's most productive hitter and he's on pace to set several career highs.

Bogaerts deserves to be in the AL MVP conversation, and the stats in the tweet below help create a compelling case for the young star.

The leading candidate for AL MVP is -- surprise, surprise -- Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout, who's finished first or second in the voting for this award in six of the last seven seasons.

Here's where Trout ranks among AL players in the same categories listed in the tweet above.

51 XBH (T-1st)
75 RBI (1st)
74 runs (T-2nd)
.305 avg (8th)
.666 SLG (1st)
.455 OBP (1st)
1.121 OPS (1st)
20 2B (T-19th)
30 HR (1st)
95 hits (T-22nd)

One factor that could help swing the voting is the postseason races. Both the Red Sox and Angels don't have much of a chance to win their respective divisions, but an AL wild-card berth certainly is possible for each club. The Red Sox are three games behind the second wild-card spot, while the Angels are 4.5 games back. Trout has been to the playoffs only once in his career, and he'd probably have more than two MVP awards if the Angels had been more competitive earlier in his career.

Bogaerts needs an incredible second half of the year to win AL MVP, but there's no question he deserves to be mentioned as a legitimate candidate right now.

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Hey, 2019 wasn't a total washout -- at least we got to watch Rafael Devers

Hey, 2019 wasn't a total washout -- at least we got to watch Rafael Devers

The 2019 season may feel disposable, but there's one reason we'll look back on it fondly -- Rafael Devers.

Just as Nomar Garciaparra gave 1997 meaning and Mookie Betts ultimately made 2015 worth suffering through, Devers has stamped 2019 as a campaign to remember, even if everything else about the team's performance we can't forget soon enough.

In Wednesday night's loss to the Giants, Devers made history by blasting his 30th homer. Still only 22 years old, he joined Xander Bogaerts as the only teammates with 30 homers and 50 doubles in a season.

He did it with a screaming line drive into the first row of seats in the right field corner to break up Jeff Samardzija's no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth. The swing was quintessential Devers, a vicious rip on a fat cutter that left the park at over 111 mph.

It's the kind of swing we've seen him pulverize mistakes with all year, and it suggests even better days lay ahead.

"He's put it all together," said manager Alex Cora. "The most important thing is that he's not pleased with what's going on with us. That's the most important thing. He can go 0 for 6 and we win and you always see him smiling on that line until the game is over. Or we win and he doesn't make a play, he puts his teammates in a bad spot, he's upset about it. I think it was the game he went 6 for 6 in Cleveland, he was upset because he didn't make a play. And that's who he is and we're very proud of him. That's the mentality that we have to have as an organization. Be a winner. It's funny because the other day he's like, 'Oh this is the first time I'm not going to be in the playoffs' I'm like, 'Dude, you only have two and a half years in the big leagues so you'll be OK.' But he made some adjustments in the offseason and it's paying off."

For his part, Devers was happy to reach home run No. 30, which came 15 days after No. 29.

"I wasn't that anxious about 30 home runs," he said. "I was just trying to make contact on the ball as usual. It wasn't something that was really on my mind. I just made the adjustments I needed to make. I know it's been a while since I've hit one. Watching film, seeing the adjustments that I needed to make in order to do that, but really making contact.

"I had to just control the strike zone more, figure out my pitch selection, what to swing at because that's really what I struggled with," he added. "I was still confident at the plate. It was really what I was swinging at that caused all the issues."

Devers noted his close relationship with Bogaerts and what it meant to join him in the 30-50 club.

"I'm extremely happy, especially for him," he said. "He's one of my closest friends. To be able to do that with him feels really special for me. Obviously we just have to continue to play the game together and try to break as many records as possible. It's pretty special."

Special is a good way to describe Devers' 2019. Amidst a sea of injury and underachievement, he managed to shine with an infectious enthusiasm and joy that gave this forgettable season a reason to be.

Next up in 2020: marrying individual achievement with a return to the playoffs.

"Obviously this isn't the season that we've envisioned for our team," Devers said. "That's something that sticks with me more as opposed to personal accolades. I'm just glad some of my other teammates are achieving milestones for themselves as well."

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Highlights of the Red Sox' 11-3 loss to the Giants

Highlights of the Red Sox' 11-3 loss to the Giants

FINAL SCORE:  Giants 11, Red Sox 3

IN BRIEF: Jeff Samardzija no-hit the Red Sox into the sixth inning and Boston was held to six hits, one of them Rafael Devers' 30th home run, in an 11-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. It was the 2,000th managerial win for the Giants' Bruce Bochy. BOX SCORE

RED SOX RECORD: 79-72

HIGHLIGHTS

A YAZ-TO-YAZ FIRST PITCH:

1st inning:
Yastrzemski walks, moves to third on Belt's double to center, Pillar grounds out to short, scoring Yastrzemski (1-0, SF).

Vogt hits a two-run homer off Chacin off the right-field foul pole on a 0-and-2 pitch (3-0, SF).

3rd inning:
Pillar hits an infield single to third and steals second, Vogt walks, Crawford doubles to right, scoring Pillar (4-0, SF).

6th inning:
Devers homers off Samardzija to right on a 3-2 pitch (4-1, SF).

7th inning:
Holt singles to center (Abad replaces Samardzija on the mound), Bradley Jr. reaches on an infield hit to shortstop, moves to second on M.Hernández's single to center, León singles to left, scoring Bradley Jr. (4-2, SF).

8th inning:
Pillar hits an infield single to shortstop, moves to third on Dickerson's single to right, Rickard pinch-runs for Dickerson, Vogt hits a sacrifice fly to center fielder Bradley Jr., scoring Pillar (5-2, SF).

Rickard steals second (Brewer replaces Shawaryn on the mound), Adames hits an infield single to second, scoring Rickard (6-2, SF).

9th inning:
(Velázquez replaces Brewer on the mound) A. Garcia doubles to left, Yastrzemski singles to center, scoring A. Garcia (7-2, SF).

Vogt grounds into fielder's choice at second, Yastrzemski scores (8-2, SF).

(Weber replaces Velázquez on the mound) Crawford reaches on fielder's choice plus an error by shortstop Bogaerts, Belt scores (9-2, SF). 

Adames singles to left, loading the bases, Dubon singles to right, scoring Vogt and Crawford (11-2, SF).

Bradley Jr. homers to left off E. Franco on a 1-2 pitch (11-3, SF).

UP NEXT:
Vs. Giants, Thursday, 1:05 p.m., NESN
@Rays, Friday, 7:10 p.m., NESN
@Rays, Saturday, 6:10 p.m., NESN
@Rays, Sunday, 1:10 p.m., NESN

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