Patience with Bogaerts pays off for Red Sox


Playing in a World Series at age 20 is something special and even that is elevated when your team wins the title. Xander Bogaerts came on the scene with all the platitudes one would associate with a prospect that easily was in the top ten of MLB. The next Bryce Harper or Mike Trout – a young soon to be superstar and a key position.

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Then came the crash.

The story is a familiar one that needs no repeating since 2014 was both a professional embarrassment for Bogaerts and a miserable failure for a team that finished last. The statistical numbers for Bogaerts’ fielding and hitting could be located somewhere in the depths of the Mariana Trench.

"The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work. – Harry Golden"

The hard work in the off-season for Bogaerts became a key to his resurrection in 2015 – especially with the glove work. You look at the fielding metrics for 2015 and Bogaerts is the equal to and will often exceed Jose Iglesias. UZR/150? Jose is 3.3 and Xander 2.8. In DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), DEF (Defensive Runs Above Average) and OOZ (Plays Outside Zone) you actually see Bogaerts ahead of Iglesias.

In 2014 Bogaerts had a negative (-3.7) for UZR/150. DEF was 1.8 compared to 9.1 in 2015. Similar metrics show a remarkable improvement and, of course, the eyeball test and anecdotal comments by evaluators substantiate the improvement.

Bogaerts dedicated himself to stepping it up defensively both in the months between seasons and in spring training. The hard hours and thousands of ground balls and the improved decision making and footwork. The finished product is a shortstop that is not a defensive liability, but a defensive asset.

What about the bat?

The American League has two categories for offense from shortstop: The first is Bogaerts and the second is everyone else. The two outs RISP is astronomical compared to 2014 – a climb from .133 to .391. Bogaerts leads all shortstops in hits, runs, RBI, average, wOBA, wRC+, WAR, BABIP and just about everything else. Power? I think that was answered with a granny at Fenway.

What about the negatives?

"“I know the power will come, there’s no doubt about that.” – Bogaerts"

The murmurings about a power shortage have been addressed by Bogaerts in a rather humorous way in a notes column by the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber: “That guy doesn’t hit singles” in reference to Jackie Bradley. Maybe that ISO (Isolated Power) of .103 will climb through the years?

What about the walks? Bogaerts BB/9% is 4.2 and that is relatively low. Another young shortstop also had some similar totals – Nomar Garciaparra.

For this Red Sox fan the only real negative is not on the field, but off the field – Scott Boras. Hate him or love him (as players do) the pocketbook will come into play. Expect Bogaerts to eventually claim his free agency and expect the Red Sox to pay.

"Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet. – Aristotle"

Bogaerts is a prime example of the use of patience with young talent. The difficulty is just how far do you go? Many would have sent Dustin Pedroia back to Pawtucket in the spring of 2007. Bradley still has some question marks, but appears patience may be on the verge of dividends. And with pitching it is rare that a young pitcher does not get banged around a bit. How they react is the key and it looks like a few of ours step-up after getting racked up.

Bogaerts is a star who is sure to burn brighter and it is time to enjoy the exploits of a player who has taken the initiative for self-improvement to provide an example for others both on the team and who are fans. If the team had performed up to expectations each Bogaerts at bat would have the chant of “MVP, MVP.”

Sources: Fangraphs/Baseball-reference

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