Despite being in fourth place in the AL East, there are many bright spots on the Boston Red Sox. One of them is none other than their starting shortstop: Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts helped the team win the World Series in 2013, picking up some time at shortstop and third base late in the season, getting some at-bats against lefties. In the end due to some impressive performances, Bogaerts then ended up playing in all six World Series games instead of Will Middlebrooks and hit .296 with a .412 OBP in 12 post season games totaling 34 at-bats.
Bogaerts, 21, is batting .304 on the year while boasting a .393 OBP. In addition to this, Bogaerts has 18 extra base hits out of his 58 hits which include three homers, a triple and 14 doubles. With this being said, the power is definitely there, and will develop as time progresses. Without a doubt, Xander Bogaerts deserves to win AL Rookie of the Year.
The main reason why Xander Bogaerts deserves the award is because of his production. In May alone, Bogaerts is batting .327 with a .398 OBP. Here, Xander shows promise as he is improving as the season progresses. Compare this to his .276 batting average in April. Also, it should come as no surprise that the Aruba native hits better as the weather heats up. Aruba is a Caribbean island just north of Venezuela, which is in South America, meaning that Bogaerts likely is not used to the cold the way a player from the states would be. With this being said, Bogaerts should be able to keep up his .300 average for the rest of the season. If Bogaerts gets his OBP at or above .400, then should be a lock for Rookie of the Year. Obviously, it is tough to expect such production from a rookie, but for someone who was the number two prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com before the season, this is a bit more feasible than it is for other young players.
The main question with Bogaerts is his defense, but that will not be a problem after a few days. Stephen Drew is slated to return to the Boston Red Sox June 2nd and when he does, Bogaerts will play third base for the Boston Red Sox. Despite playing a tick below average at shortstop, he is not a bad defensive player. For someone as athletic as Bogaerts, third base should not be a problem, in fact it should be easier. With his impressive arm strength, the hot corner will not pose a problem. He should be at least above-average defensively at third base.
An important reason why Xander Bogaerts should win Rookie of the Year is because of his competition. Is Xander Bogaerts hands down the best first-year player in the American League? No, he is not. Players in race with Bogaerts include Cuban defector Jose Abreu and Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka. Neither Abreu or Tanaka, however, deserves the award.
First of all there is Jose Abreu. Abreu is on the DL, meaning he has missed some playing time. Now he has to play catch-up to other players in order to win the award. A major concern for Abreu is that he has no plate discipline. Despite ESPN projecting Abreu to have an OBP in the mid .400’s, his OBP is just .312 on the season. In 44 games, Abreu has just 10 walks to 50 strikeouts. He deserves credit though because he already clubbed 15 homers on the season and 11 doubles. The most important reason why Abreu should not win Rookie of the Year is his age. Jose Abreu is hardly a rookie at 27-years-old. In fact, Abreu played five seasons at Cuba’s highest level which is the Cuban National Series. Pro baseball is outlawed in Cuba, but the National Series has the skill of a pro league. For these reasons, Abreu should not be considered for Rookie of the Year.
Second of all, Masahiro Tanaka is a great player but does not deserve the award either. Although the 25-year-old is the age of some rookies, Tanaka is hardly a rookie. Tanaka made his Nippon Baseball League debut in 2007 and racked up 1,238 strikeouts in that time period. To put it this way, Tanaka was a seven year vet in Japan which is amazing for someone of his age, but in reality he is not a rookie. Although Tanaka should definitely be a Cy Young Award candidate, in no way does he deserve Rookie of the Year. If Tanaka never played a pro outing of baseball in Japan and had a minute 2.29 ERA along with 79 strikeouts to just ten walks so far this season, then he would win Rookie of the Year without a doubt.
Both of the players mentioned above, Abreu and Tanaka, are talented players but really what it comes down to is age. If either of these men were born in the USA, they would not be rookies and should not count as rookies based off of their prior playing experiences. Bogaerts on the other hand, despite being from Aruba, signed with Boston at 16-years-old and played in the minor leagues until Boston eventually called him up to the big leagues.
Overall, Bogaerts is the most deserving player in the AL for the Rookie of the Year award. His only legitimate competition should be Houston Astros outfielder George Springer, but Bogaerts seems to have the upper hand over Springer as of right now. Earlier on in the season, some people saw Jackie Bradley Jr. as a candidate, but due to his lack of offensive output, the odds seem slim for him to win such an award. Bradley could definitely win a Gold Glove award if he keeps playing on a regular basis, but definitely not a Rookie of the Year award.