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Monday, 12 May 2014 22:41

Boston Red Sox: Examining Xander Bogaerts' Rookie Season So Far

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According to MLB.com before the 2014 MLB season, Xander Bogaerts was the #2 prospect in all of baseball.

For a top prospect in all of baseball, Xander Bogaerts has not drawn a lot of buzz from the media so far this season. This is mostly because the 21 year old has not put up the monster numbers that some players in the league put up so Bogaerts is almost tossed to the side for the meantime. Despite Bogaerts not being the center of attention, he has worked well while flying under the radar. Let’s take a look and see what type of numbers he has put up this season.

So far this season, Bogaerts done a solid job for the Boston Red Sox which is quite incredible for a 21 year old to accomplish. So far this season in 35 games, Bogaerts is batting .252 while boasting a .361 OBP in 123 at-bats. Bogaerts has not produced the power some people expected with just one homerun and seven doubles, but he has done his job nonetheless.  On defense, Bogaerts has been less than stellar, committing four errors so far. Keep in mind although this is below average defense, Bogaerts is a far cry from Edgar Renteria who booted 30 balls for the Red Sox in 153 games for the team in 2005.

Interestingly enough, although many hitters struggle against left-handed pitching, Bogaerts does not. In fact, he feasts on lefties racking up 13 hits in 40 at-bats along with seven walks, his only homerun, and three out of his seven doubles. For Bogaerts, success against lefties is not new. Last season, racked up seven hits in 15 at-bats off lefties at the big league level, and in the AA and AAA, he hit .309 with an outstanding .423 OBP off them. With this being said, Bogaerts does not particularly struggle against right-handed pitchers. So far this season, Bogaerts is batting .217 off righties with a .316 OBP which although is not great, is sufficient enough for a big league player when he dominates 25% of pitchers. Obviously the .217 average versus righties is not great for Bogaerts, but as he improves, his average will improve against both lefties and righties to the point where he is a solid player against both. Given the split in Bogaerts’ average, it would be in manager John Farrell’s best interest to give Bogaerts days off when Boston is facing right-handed pitchers as opposed to lefties. Despite Jonathan Herrera’s struggles, putting him in over Bogaerts against righties to give Bogaerts an occasional night off is a good idea because then that way the lineup does not suffer as much as it would if they took Bogaerts out for a day against a lefty.

Even though Bogaerts appears as just an above average MLB player, clearly he is so much more than that. At 21 years old, Bogaerts is the age of an average college junior who is waiting to be drafted by a Major League Baseball this June. Also, the 21 year olds that do play pro baseball tend to be in the low-A South Atlantic League or the Midwestern League. Since Bogaerts is from Aruba, the Red Sox snagged him at a 16 years old, two years younger than they could sign an American prospect and he developed nicely, making him the Boston Red Sox shortstop of the future. Keep in mind that the average age of a player on the Boston Red Sox according to Baseball Reference is 31, making Bogaerts 10 years younger than his average teammate. Obviously what Bogaerts is doing right now given his age is incredible and people seem to forget that Bogaerts is so young because he plays the game like a 10 year veteran does.

Xander Bogaerts is performing well enough at this point, but expect him to keep improving throughout the course of the season and in years to come. Based off of the raw tools Bogaerts possesses, he is without a doubt the Boston Red Sox shortstop of the future. When compared to the Red Sox best shortstop prospect, there is no contest. Marrero is a highly talented player for the AA Portland Sea Dogs who is batting .282 in 103 at-bats with a pair of homeruns, 10 doubles, a .383 OBP, and a .981 fielding percentage. Marrero is definitely a guy who could see Major League action as an MLB shortstop and as an MLB regular if all goes well, but in no way could he compete with Xander Bogaerts. Most importantly, Marrero is three years elder than Bogaerts and in AA whereas Bogaerts is in the Major Leagues putting up numbers that Marrero could only dream of putting up. Sure Marrero is known as a great defensive shortstop, but Bogaerts has not been all that bad defensively and will improve as time goes on. This is not meant to bash Deven Marrero at all, instead it is meant to praise Xander Bogaerts who has no real competition for the starting shortstop job in Boston since Boston has no intention of re-signing Stephen Drew.

In the future, Bogaerts has the potential to become a star MLB player. He projects have 20-25 homerun a year power while batting over .300 in his peak years with excellent plate discipline. On defense, Bogaerts should be above average, but is unlikely to become any better than that. His arm on the other hand, will give him pride as it should be strong during his peak years. At 6ft1 210lbs, Bogaerts does not have what it takes to ever become a successful base stealer, especially given his lack of success stealing at the Minor League levels. Overall, Bogaerts projects to be one special ballplayer.

To recap, Xander Bogaerts is not receiving all the attention that he deserves. As a 21 year old starting at shortstop for the defending World Series champs, it is surprising that Bogaerts is not talked about more than he is. When people do talk about Bogaerts, they do so negatively saying that his defense is not good when in fact, Boston has had much worse defensive shortstops in recent years. Bogaerts will be a franchise player for the Boston Red Sox, and will contribute to them constantly for years to come.

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