Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a Xander Bogaerts fan for about as long as he’s been on the radar, but I can’t help but wonder why he actually made the postseason roster. Limited to only 25 men, a reduction from the possible 40 that Major League teams can carry in September, I was a little stunned to see the Sox opt to keep Bogaerts around. Sure, the kid is a phenom, but Boston had just swung a deal for John McDonald, a defensive whiz who plays just about every infield position, why not take him through to October baseball instead?
As I sat watching game three of the ALDS, as Stephen Drew came up to bat, I couldn’t help but wonder why John Farrell didn’t turn to the rookie in this situation. Lefty, Jake McGee was throwing heat and Drew possessed a .196 average against lefties on the year. B0gaerts is tailor-made for this spot, a right-handed batter; why not put him in to face the lefty? Worst case, Joe Maddon switches McGee out and Bogaerts loses the advantage but still gets the chance to victimize the Rays staff. If Farrell wasn’t prepared to use his rookie now, why include him on the roster at all.
Farrell however, made good on this error just 24 hours later. In game four, Farrell turned to his rookie in almost the exact situation, and batting for Drew, against McGee, Bogaerts fought for a six-pitch walk, and then motored home on a Jacoby Ellsbury single, combined with a wild pitch.
And this folks, is why Xander Bogaerts is on the playoff roster. An alternative to Stephen Drew, who can hit either handed pitcher relatively well. Drew will always be the starter, his outstanding defense and his ability to hit righties ensures that, but when it comes to lefties, we have Bogaerts. Sure, he will be the starter in years to come, but for now, we have to let his bat do its talking off the bench. McDonald might have been an adequate defensive sub, but his bat will never rival Bogaerts’. The win that night, compared to the loss the night before shows that the Sox are a better squad when all their pieces are working together, bringing Xander in was the right thing to do, and the Sox came away with the win because of it.