Xander Bogaerts wins it with incredible walkoff single against Craig Kimbrel

Jared Wickerham

Have you seen what Kimbrel does to opposing hitters? Incredible is the right word.

The Red Sox are still under .500, and they're 4.5 games out of a playoff spot as the end of May approaches, but they have Xander Bogaerts: I'm willing to let the first two bits slide for now thanks to X. Especially after he helped the Sox to a walkoff win against the Braves to secure a four-game sweep, and did it on an 0-2 pitch against ubercloser Craig Kimbrel.

Now, you might be wondering what's so "incredible" about a single, even if it's of the walkoff variety. I'm glad to answer that question for you.

Craig Kimbrel hits the high-90s and triple digits on the radar gun with regularity, and has led the National League in saves in each of the last three years. Saves and velocity aren't everything, but in Kimbrel's case, they're both meaningful: He's amassed a 272 ERA+ in his career over five seasons, and has held opponents to a line of .083/.089/.113 with two strikes on them. He's struck out 132 of the 168 batters he's faced in that situation -- 132 of 168 is 79 percent. Yup, 79 percent of all batters who have see an 0-2 count against Kimbrel head back to the dugout after finding nothing but air with their bats on the next pitch.

The 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts, whom Peter Gammons reminds us is still as young as many of the players who will be selected in next week's draft, saw a 98 mile per hour fastball on an 0-2 count against Craig Kimbrel. He did not swing through, and he did not make weak, dribbly contact. Instead, he turned that 98 mph death-sphere into a game-winning hit.

I'm assuming the error occurred because the Braves' defenders simply weren't prepared for a situation where an 0-2 Kimbrel fireball was put into play in any meaningful way.

Bogaerts has his own array of impressive contextual stats. With two strikes on him, he's batting .261/.359/.397, good for a split-adjusted OPS+ of 194. In 0-2 counts -- which he has only seen on 12 occasions this year thanks to a combination of sample size and his beyond-his-years approach at the plate -- Bogaerts is hitting .429/.429/.500. With the pitcher ahead, he's produced a 198 sOPS+.

It's too early in X's career to know, but this might have been some unstoppable force vs. immovable object action going on, and Bogaerts came out on top. It might not always end that way, but this one is in the books.

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