Star Padres infielder finally shows signs of life at the plate against Blue Jays

Could Xander Bogaerts' slump this season finally be ending after his strong game on Sunday?
Toronto Blue Jays v San Diego Padres
Toronto Blue Jays v San Diego Padres / Denis Poroy/GettyImages

It has been an incredibly challenging start to the 2024 season for San Diego Padres infielder Xander Bogaerts. After essentially getting forced off of shortstop this season to make room for Ha-Seong Kim, Bogaerts took the change in stride.

Through 102 plate appearances in 2024, however, he's slashing .204/.275/.290 and sports a 68 wRC+. To say that that isn't exactly the production the Padres were hoping for from their $280 million investment in Bogaerts is a gross understatement.

Fortunately for the Padres and Bogaerts, it sure looked like something finally clicked for him on Sunday against the Blue Jays as he had a big day at the plate finally, including a homer in San Diego's 6-3 win over Toronto. All in all, he went 2-for-4 with a runs scored and two RBI. He hit a game-tying homer and provided an insurance run late with a bases-loaded walk.

Padres News: Xander Bogaerts' rebounds vs Blue Jays in win

It would be easy to chalk up Bogaerts' slow 2024 start to small sample weirdness and adjusting to playing a new position. Bogaerts himself has been very candid in acknowledging his struggles and proclaimed just a few days ago that Bogaerts felt like he was close to turning things around at the plate. The Padres agreed and stayed the course with him and were rewarded with a good game finally.

In some respects, Bogaerts' start has been the result of some bad luck. His .233 BABIP in 2024 is easily the worst mark of his career thus far, which seems to point to the batted balls he is used to finding holes are just finding gloves instead. Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap.

However, 2024 has also been a troubling trend when it comes to the quality of his contact at his plate. Bogaerts has seen a noticeable dropoff in the number of line drives he hits over the last couple of years, and going back to 2023, his hard-hit percentage has continued to drop off with his 2024 mark mark there being in the league's cellar (in addition to his average exit velocity). Bad luck explains some of it, but hitting a bunch of weak grounders and fly balls that are a lot easier to field hasn't helped the cause.

Hopefully Sunday's game is a sign of things to come because Bogaerts has the ability to impact the ball, hence San Diego's aggressiveness in pursuing him. If he can't start driving the ball with more authority, that contract could start looking really ugly in a hurry.

But we'll take the positives from Sunday and hope they mark a turnaround.

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