Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
There’s a good chance that Xander Bogaerts will one day develop into one of the better players in all of baseball. However, as great as baseball’s #2 prospect may soon become, he probably won’t quite be at that level as a 21-year old in 2014. That’s not to say he’ll be bad at the majors this year; Bogaerts has the tools to make himself an above-average player even when slumping. He might, however, fall closer to league-average than to his projected future performance.
In his four-year minor league career, Bogaerts has averaged a .296/.373/.489 slash line while averaging 14 home runs per year. That includes his 2013 season that was split between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket which saw him slash .297/.388/.477 with 15 home runs. However, it would be unfair to expect Bogaerts to put himself near the .300/.400/.500 threshold in his first major league season. So, what will fall for Bogaerts?
His minor league BABIP will likely fall once Bogaerts reaches the majors; Bogaerts barreling up the ball with frequency was likely a portion of that BABIP but poor minor league defense was likely another significant portion. That loss could put Bogaerts more in the .260-.280 range as far as batting average goes.
However, due to Bogaerts’ excellent patience at the plate he should still reach base at a relatively high rate– almost certainly above league-average (a mere .318). Similarly, his power will likely give him a slugging percentage firmly above league average (a similarly low .396 mark).
Expecting Bogaerts to be above average in nearly every major league offensive category as a 21-year old may seem ambitious. There’s no doubt that Bogaerts is capable of just that though. The composure that he showed in the playoffs and toward the end of last season will no doubt be a plus for him going forward. Still, keep conventional wisdom in check and don’t expect him to compete seriously for the MVP Award. The Rookie of the Year, though? That’s a definite possibility.