Red Sox vs. Indians 2017 Roster Breakdown: Infielders
Two young All-Stars face off here at the shortstop position, a contest that at least twenty other ball clubs would be jealous of. On Boston’s side, Xander Bogaerts made big strides as a hitter in 2016. His long-projected power finally showed up, hitting three times the amount of homers as the previous season to wind up at 21 to go along with 34 doubles. His batting average dropped to a still stellar .294, but that mattered little due to the increase in power and constant on-base ability. Where Bogaerts showed some concerning regression is on the defensive end.
Grading as at least an average defender in 2015 with -1 defensive runs saved and a 1.0 UZR, Bogaerts may have gotten complacent with his glove in 2016. Story after story read how much the youngster was working on fielding in 2015 Spring Training, but those stories disappeared last season. What resulted is -10 defensive runs saved and a -2.9 UZR. Not horrible, not Jeter-ian, but not what he showed the year prior.
Francisco Lindor, on the other hand, is a defensive wizard. Registering an elite 17 defensive runs saved and 20.8 UZR, the 23-year old has established himself as one of the game’s top gloves next to guys like Brandon Crawford and Andrelton Simmons. His offense is also impressive, with a career .810 OPS over his two seasons. His combined body of work has led him to a 10.3 WAR for his rookie and sophomore campaigns. For reference, Bryce Harper has an 11.6 WAR from 2015-16, and that’s over 43 more games than Lindor.
Make no mistake, Bogaerts is likely a perennial All-Star in his own right, but Lindor is an unquestionable franchise cornerstone and potential MVP candidate.