How Little League players motivated Red Sox star Xander Bogaerts

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has had an eventful journey to play in the Little League Classic

The Boston Red Sox had the opportunity to compete in this year’s Major League Baseball Little League Classic, an event held annually in Williamsport, PA since 2017. While the game ended sourly when the bullpen collapsed late against the Baltimore Orioles, the experience was positive for players who got a chance to perform in front of little league players who look up to them.

Xander Bogaerts was a bit nostalgic about his little league days when he dreamed of playing in the big leagues. While he was more than willing to offer these kids advice that will guide them throughout their own baseball journeys, according to The Boston Globe (subscription required), his interaction with Little League players also impacted Bogaerts.

“I’ve been through a tough, tough time, but a lot of kids came up to me and said, ‘You’re my favorite player.’

I was like man I know I play bad but hearing that from the kids makes you proud of what you have achieved so far and you just have to keep going lest you do it. I will not let you down. It made a lot of sense. It was great.”

Bogaerts struggled through a slump in the second half. He’s hit .245 with .706 OPS since the All-Star break and just .209 with .583 OPS in August.

The dip pushed his batting average for the season down to .299, dropping below the .300 mark for the first time since April 17. Still ranked seventh in the American League in that category, no ambitions for a potential batting title seem out the window at this point.

Bogaerts owns an .810 OPS for the season, which ranks second among qualified major league shortstops, but it would still be his lowest production in that category since 2017.

Despite his current slump, Bogaerts has come to base with a strong clip this season, but his strength has evaporated. His .441 SLG and .142 ISO would both be the lowest since 2017. This season, when Bogaerts hit .273/.343/.403 with 10 homers in 148 games, is the only season since he was a rookie in the Bogaerts He failed to earn an All-Star performance, a Silver Slugger Award, or votes in the MVP voting. He has earned at least two of these three honors on multiple occasions. Of course, 2017 isn’t the season he wants to compare this year to, but that’s where he’s headed if he doesn’t pull out of this crisis soon.

Perhaps his interaction with Little League players was the spark Bogaerts needed to get back on track Sunday night. He hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to put the Sox to two. The rally ended up being too short, but Bogaerts’ signs of life were encouraging. His tenth homer of the season was his first since Aug. 3 and only his third since the break.

The admiration he received from the kids could be a motivating factor that gets Bogaerts out of his slide in the second half. The Red Sox suffered defeat in the Little League Classic, but they can count the trip to Williamsport as victory if it results in their star shortstop ending the season strong.

About Veronica Richards

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