Some Xander Bogaerts Thoughts In The Fallout Of Yesterday’s Walk-Off Win
For the first time since the Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Nomar Garciaparra Era, we’ve returned to a point in baseball where some of the game’s brightest stars are shortstops once again.
Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Francisco Lindor are among today’s most talented young stars, they’re all shortstops, and they’re all 23 years old or younger. Throw Manny Machado in there if you want, too. I don’t really view him as a shortstop, because he’s only at that position due to an injury to JJ Hardy, but let’s throw him in there for the sake of argument. Machado is also 23, and undeniably one of the top players in the game. Yet, when you ask a baseball fan who the top shortstop is in the MLB, the most popular answer is Carlos Correa. All due respect to how good Correa is, and how good he likely will be, but that is the incorrect answer. The correct answer is Bogaerts.
After his walk-off base hit on Thursday, Bogaerts is now hitting .351 on the year, which leads the majors. Daniel Murphy of the Nationals came into June 12 hitting an MLB-leading .374. Since June 12, he’s hitting .184 over his last 10 games to drop all the way down to .347, making Bogaerts the game’s top hitter. And, of course, batting average isn’t the only, or even the best, unit of measurement to determine the greatness of a hitter. Bogaerts also leads the MLB in hits (106), multi-hit games (33), batting average with runners in scoring position (.395), and he’s tied for fifth in the MLB in WAR (3.7).
So, my question is, if Bogaerts is better than most, if not every, player in the MLB in all of these statistical categories, then how is he not the best at his own position? The answer is: he is. For as much as he’s been criticized for not hitting for enough power, he’s one of only two shortstops in the MLB with an OPS over .900 (.911), with the other being Machado, who, again, isn’t even a shortstop. Entering play on Friday, Bogaerts is on pace to hit 20 homers and drive in 113 runs. That’s not eye-popping power, but it’s a hell of a lot more than a handful of media members in this market thought he’d be capable of.
The craziest part about all of this is that he’s only 23. It probably doesn’t feel that way to Red Sox fans, because he made his major league debut as a 20-year-old, and was even getting at-bats during Boston’s 2013 World Series run. He’s been at the big league level for parts of four seasons now, which means a couple of things. First, you may think he’s really good now, but he’s only going to get better as he gets into his mid to late 20’s. Second, he’s racking up service time, which means that he’s only under team control through the 2019 season.
What you’re looking at right now is the Red Sox only having Bogaerts under team control through his age-26 season before he becomes a free agent. If you’re the Red Sox, you extend this guy no later than this upcoming offseason. The price is only going to rise as he continues to get better. Mix in the fact that he’s a Scott Boras client, so any request for a hometown discount will most certainly be laughed at. Boras clients are looking to get paid what they’re worth, and Bogaerts is going to be worth a lot. But if you’re the Red Sox, you pay that man.