Bogaerts is tearing it up below the radar

Bogaerts is tearing it up below the radar

BOSTON -- You think Jackie Bradley Jr., with his 28-game hitting streak, is hot? Believe it or not, Xander Bogaerts might be even hotter.

Boston's shortstop went 2-for-4 in Tuesday night's 8-3 win over the Rockies and leads the American League with a .349 average.

The 17-game hitting streak by Bogaerts is the second-longest active one in the Major Leagues, after you know who.

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In truth, Bogaerts has been swinging a sizzling bat for longer than that. Over his last 31 games, Bogaerts has hit safely 29 times and has 19 multi-hit games. He is hitting .409 amid that torrid stretch, with 12 doubles, three homers, and 18 RBIs.

"I'm just trying to battle, you know? I'm seeing the ball well, just trying to get on base," said Bogaerts. "I know I'm walking [a lot] lately. I give a lot of credit to that. Just going up with a gameplan. During games, I talk to [assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez] especially and see what I'm going to do, or it's David [Ortiz] helping me out in between innings, or in between pitches as I'm hitting. It's fun."

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Perhaps it takes a scorching-hot hitter to know one.

"He's smoking it, aint he?" said Bradley, tied for second in the AL with a .346 average. "He's a really good player, a special player. I feel like every time he goes up there, he has a consistent plan. He's sticking to it. He's our three hitter and he's doing a very good job of it."

You can actually say that Bogaerts has been hot for almost a calendar year. Since May 31, 2015, the shortstop leads the Major Leagues with a .343 average and has 219 hits in 153 games.

"You could see that coming," said Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis. "Just the way he works. He works very well. He's just very confident. You look at him up there at home plate and he's up there with a lot of confidence. He's not afraid of any situation. He's not afraid of velo [velocity]. He's confident. He trusts his hands and he uses them very well."

Going to the opposite field was a hallmark for Bogaerts in his breakout season last year. This season, he appears more dangerous because of his ability to adjust to however he is pitched.

"We're talking about in the first couple innings how would we attack Xander," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "And we've seen the opposition try to pitch him away exclusively. He takes his base hits the other way. Lately, they've been trying to throw the ball in on him, he pulls his hands in. He's got very good bat speed, good plate coverage, good hitters are capable of handling different parts of the zone and he's doing that."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.