Xander Bogaerts is red hot for the Red Sox, who need him to keep hitting as they fight for a playoff spot

On Tuesday, the Red Sox lost to the Blue Jays, 10-4, at Fenway Park, and fell 10 games behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East. The bright spot for Boston was their shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who went 3 for 5 with one RBI and two runs scored in the loss.

Bogaerts matched Hall of Famer Ted Williams as the only Red Sox players with at least one hit, one run and one RBI in eight straight games. Williams achieved the feat twice, including an 11-game streak in 1950. Bogaerts also has three hits in each of his last three games, two or more hits in four straight games and he's homered five times in his last seven games.

After signing a seven-year contract extension at the beginning of the 2019 campaign, Bogaerts is having the best season of his six-year MLB career. The 26-year-old is hitting .312/.399/.575 with an OPS+ of 149. Through 91 games, he's hit 21 home runs.

As the Red Sox PR account notes, Angels outfielder and MVP front-runner Mike Trout and Bogaerts are the only two players batting at least .300 with at least 20 home runs.

Bogaerts' 74 RBI on the season are second-best in the AL behind Trout. He's tied with Trout for most extra-base hits in the AL with 51, second to Trout in the AL for OPS (.974) and slugging percentage (.575), and second to Tigers' Nicholas Castellanos for the most doubles (30) in the AL.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox
So far this season, Bogaerts is earning every dollar of his $132 million contract. USATSI

Bogaerts, who sports a 4.8 offensive WAR, could become just the seventh shortstop since Boston's Nomar Garciappara to hit .300 with an OPS over .900 in a full season. The full list of shortstops who have accomplished it: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Guillen and Rich Aurilia.

Bogaerts has seen improvement from season to season since joining the club full-time in 2014. But this year has been a full transformation from a guy who seemingly hit for average to a power-hitter, a dangerous addition to the already-stacked Boston lineup. Another improvement has been Bogaerts' plate discpline; he's notched 53 walks this season -- just five shy of his career-high.

In Cleveland at the All-Star Game, Bogaerts, a right-handed batter, spoke with reporters about how he's worked on pulling the ball, and his mindset at the plate:

If he can continue this pace throughout the rest of the second-half of the season, then Bogaerts could definitely make his way into the AL MVP discussion.

Either way, Boston's superstar shortstop is going to be crucial for the Red Sox as they try to claw their way into an AL Wild Card spot. The reigning World Series champions were 6-13 on April 17 and 14-17 at the beginning of May. Since then, they've managed to (slightly) turn things around, and have stayed at or above .500.

But for a team that won a club record 108 games last season and never once faced an elimination game in the playoffs, Boston has a lot to try to improve on, the bullpen being a focal point. If Boston makes the right moves (read: the right pitching moves) before this year's trade deadline, then the team, with Bogaerts continuing to perform along with the rest of the offense, could make another run at a World Series title.

The Red Sox have an important set of series in the next three weeks, all against AL East divisional opponents. They'll play two more games against the Blue Jays, three games against the Orioles and a total of six games against the Rays and eight games against the first-place Yankees before Aug. 5.

Katherine Acquavella joined CBS Sports in 2018. Her work has appeared in Yankees Magazine and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Memories and Dreams magazine. She is a graduate of St. John's... Full Bio

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