For many years, the best shortstop in the AL East has worn the number two. Derek Jeter has been the best shortstop in the AL East almost without contest from 2004 (when Nomar Garciaparra was traded) until just a couple years ago (when Jeter’s game began to slip significantly). For the past couple of years, there has not been a hands down guy that is the best at the position in the division, but that could very well change this season.
With due respect to Jose Reyes, who is very good, but his game relies on speed, and with the gruesome ankle injury he suffered last season he may never be quite the same. The best shortstop in the division will have the number two on his back, but he plays for the Boston Red Sox, and his name is Xander Bogaerts.
Any chance to jab at New York Yankee fans, I will take the opportunity. I do typically appreciate Michael Kay for what he does on the YES Network. He is understandably biased, given the “Y” in the acronym of his employer does stand for “Yankees”, but today he said something that irked me a bit. I get it, Bogaerts has only 16 regular season games under his belt, but he did look very good in the World Series, and he has the potential to be one of the best players in the game of baseball. So, when Kay says something to the effect of “if things break right, the Red Sox are hoping Bogaerts can compete for the Rookie of the Year award.”
Now, if you were to take a poll of all the media that covers baseball, I am pretty certain the general consensus would be that Bogaerts is the pre-season favorite for the award.
Bogaerts has four plus tools, with the one missing being plus speed despite Tim McCarver consistently calling him a “fast runner” during the World Series. He is proving he has the athleticism to stick at short, which has long been a question given his size, and he should become a solid middle of the order bat. This season, expect to see him late in the order while he gets adjusted to a 162-game schedule and big league pitchers. Regardless, when the Red Sox changed Bogaerts number from 72 last season to 2 this season, it seemed like a pretty obvious passing of the guard at shortstop in the AL East.