The number of young and talented shortstops in today’s game is amazing. It hearkens back to the days when Nomar Garciaparra, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter would duke it out over who was the best shortstop.
It seems as though the only shortstops we hear about today are Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Trevor Story. We are constantly bombarded with highlight reels and segments about them, and I don’t mind that.
The problem lies elsewhere. They’re forgetting a name. A very important name.
He’s easily the best shortstop in the American League. Don’t believe me? Look at the numbers.
With his .349 batting average, which ranks second in the American League (behind only his incredible teammate, Jackie Bradley Jr.), 26 RBIs, 66 hits, .404 OBP, .513 SLG, and .917 OPS, he ranks first in nearly every major offensive category among shortstops in the American League.
Bogaerts entered play Wednesday at sixth in baseball with 2.6 wins above replacement (WAR).
He’s in the midst of an 18-game hitting streak, as well, which often gets overshadowed by Bradley, whose 29-game hitting streak ended last night.
Bogaerts has become the model — scratch that: supermodel — for just how great Boston’s farm system has been.
It’s just that Bogaerts is its epitome.
The Red Sox have the best offense in baseball by a long shot and are embarrassing and obliterating teams every night. They average seven runs per game at Fenway Park.
If that’s not a home-field advantage, I don’t even want to know what is.
However, at the heart of the incredible offense, Bogaerts somehow sits above the rest of the team. His consistency, defensive abilities, and overall potential provide a lot of hope.
“Say it with me — Xander Bogaerts is a superstar,” Boston.com’s Paul Swydan writes. “Maybe he could be as good as Nomar.”
A comparison to Garciaparra may seem far-fetched due to Bogaerts only having about three and a half years of experience. But after batting .320 last year and with his statistics this year, one can’t help but think of Nomar every time they watch the X-man.
Both Garciaparra and Bogaerts were highly touted shortstop prospects with the Red Sox. Garciaparra easily fulfilled expectations with his five All-Star appearances; Bogaerts hasn’t been around that long, but so far, he has met expectations as well.
Garciaparra was much more effective in his first three and a half years than Bogaerts has been, but Bogaerts also seems to be consistently improving every year. It’s hard to imagine the X-man with Garciaparra’s power, but he’s sure to have his consistency and defensive abilities.
He could be even better.
The offense right now for the Red Sox has been surreal. And as young studs such as Betts, Shaw, and Bradley come to mind when you think of the Red Sox, you can’t forget about Bogaerts.
“You know what a catcher told me the other day when I got to the plate?” David Ortiz said, per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. “The catcher for the A’s, he told me that guy right now might be the best hitter in the game. … So when you hear things like that about a guy that two years ago was trying to learn how to establish himself at this level, it’s damn good.”
Calling Bogaerts the best hitter in baseball may be a bit of stretch since he is only 23. But it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
It’s time we shine the light on Bogaerts, and give him the attention that he so deserves.