Boston Red Sox Report Cards: Xander Bogaerts


Now that the 2015 season is in the books, the BoSox Injection staff will hand out their final report cards, grading the performances of each member of the Boston Red Sox roster based on their expectations entering the season.

Shortstop. . XANDER BOGAERTS . A.

2015 Stats: .320/.355/.421, 7 HR, 81 RBI, 10 SB, 4.6 WAR

Xander Bogaerts was arguably the brightest of the breakout players from this year’s Red Sox team. The 22-year old finished second in the league in batting average and hits, falling just short of 200 with 196 hits.

While we are still waiting for Bogaerts’ power to develop, he has already flourished into a run producing threat from the middle of the lineup. After starting the season buried near the bottom of the lineup, Bogaerts quickly proved himself worthy of moving up, eventually settling into the third spot in the order, where he received the bulk of his plate appearances.

More from Red Sox News

Bogaerts ranked inside the top-10 in the league with a .331 average with runners in scoring position. He has developed a knack for coming through in the clutch, boasting a .385 average with the bases loaded and a .386 average with runners in scoring position and two outs.

While Bogaerts has made a significant leap at the plate, his improvement in the field may be even more impressive. Advanced fielding metrics such as Defensive Runs Saved and DWAR rate Bogaerts as only an average fielder, but that’s still a huge step forward from last year. Those numbers may also understate his performance, as his defense certainly passes the eye test this year. He showed improved range and a much smoother delivery throwing to bases, cutting the number of errors he committed nearly in half, from 20 last year to 11.

As a rookie last year, Bogaerts bordered on being a liability, costing the Red Sox 16 runs with his defense in time split between shortstop and third base. This season he was able to spend the entire year at his natural shortstop position, which resulted in Bogaerts looking much more comfortable in the infield.

The downward spiral that Bogaerts struggled through last year was blamed primarily on the team’s decision to force him into learning a new position on the fly. After letting Stephen Drew walk into free agency following the 2013 season, the Red Sox ended up bringing the veteran shortstop back in May of last year. His arrival shifted Bogaerts over to third base, but the rookie never looked comfortable manning the hot corner. Making matters worse, his struggles to transition to a new position effected Bogaerts at the plate. After finishing the month of May with a .304 average, Bogaerts hit a meager .161 from June through August.

More from BoSox Injection

The experiment was abandoned when the Red Sox dealt Drew to the New York Yankees at the deadline, allowing Bogaerts to reclaim his preferred spot on the diamond. Once he settled back in at shortstop, Bogaerts started heating up at the plate. He hit .313 last September, foreshadowing his breakout season in 2015.

Bogaerts won’t be switching positions again anytime soon now that he’s established himself as one of the best young shortstops in the game. He led the league at his position in nearly every offensive category, including batting average, doubles, RBI, and OPS. His 4.6 WAR was not only the best at his position, but tied him with Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis for 17th overall in the league.

The numbers Bogaerts put up in the first half of the season put him at or near the top of the league at his position, but his strong second half surge makes his All-Star snub laughable in retrospect. Unless Kansas City Royals fans hijack the voting process again to knock out a deserving candidate, Bogaerts should become a perennial selection to the Mid-Summer Classic for years to come.