The most prevalent narrative coming out of the Red Sox' 7-1 win over the Blue Jays Wednesday night was that Alex Cora had suddenly returned from his COVID-induced absence, bringing calm to the chaos.
And judging by many of the voices coming out of the clubhouse following the much-needed win, it a conversation that certainly seemed pertinent.
"We know he’s the manager. A lot of guys have respect for him," Xander Bogaerts told MLB.com. “He helps a lot of guys in-game and before the game. He’s always looking for stuff that can help us out. He’s always on point, always aware and always ready to go."
"We missed him,” added catcher Christian Vázquez. “It’s fun to have him. It feels good when he’s around. He brings something special to the team. That energy that he brings to the table, it’s different than anything else. He’s a special human being. It’s different. You play relaxed in his hands. He’s very special."
But beyond the manager-saved-the-day storyline was an item that also served as a reminder to how good the Red Sox have it. That was thanks to Bogaerts.
After going 4-for-4, Bogaerts' .397 batting average is tops in the American League and second only to San Diego's Eric Hosmer. In his last 12 games, the shortstop is 24-for-50 (.480), having rebounded from a 2-for-20 five-game stretch at the season's outset.
"The first few games, he didn’t look right,” Cora told reporters. “Somebody asked a question about contracts and all that stuff. Man, these guys are pros. They know what it’s all about. He’s a guy that, his track record speaks for itself.”
The debate regarding Bogaerts' worth has been in full-swing throughout the last month, with the Red Sox' contract extension offer not coming close to the shortstop's way of thinking.
But Bogaerts has gone a long way in once again defining his worth throughout the past few weeks.
The only shortstop in baseball with a better OPS than Bogaerts is J.P. Crawford, with the Red Sox' veteran also second only to Wander Franco when it comes to extra-base hits for players manning the position.
Bogaerts also leads all MLB players in batting average in balls put in play, clocking in at a gaudy .509. In other words, he's hitting the ball with authority, as his 53.6 percent hard-hit rate would suggest.
Like many of the Red Sox this season, Bogaerts is being super-aggressive, swinging at first pitch 31.6 percent of the time compared to his career average of 16.8 percent. The difference is that unlike many of the teammates, the approach is actually working.
Another noteworthy difference is how many times Bogaerts is being shifted on. He has already equaled the total number of shifts (20) he saw for the entire 2021 season.
"We know the track record. We know the player,” Cora told reporters. “He’s doing an amazing job taking what they give him. I was joking with him, ‘Well, if they’re going to keep shifting you, go for the batting title.’ He’s like, ‘No, I’m going to hit homers, too.’"
For a team desperate to find offensive consistency, Bogaerts has been its saving grace. And just a reminder: It's not the first time.