Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is the unsung hero of 2019

BOSTON, MA - JULY 14: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox looks on after hitting a walk-off​ grand slam in the bottom of the tenth inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on July 14, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 14: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox looks on after hitting a walk-off​ grand slam in the bottom of the tenth inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on July 14, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /
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The unsung hero for the 2019 Boston Red Sox, Xander Bogaerts, often gets lost in the shuffle but is quietly mashing at the plate and playing solid defense.

10 years ago, the Boston Red Sox would sign a young man out of Aruba by the name of Xander Bogaerts. He would later make his first appearance with the club in 2013 and played in the World Series… as a 20-year-old. Pretty crazy stuff.

His first full year as a rookie didn’t necessarily go as planned, as he’d hit .240 with an OPS of only .660. The Red Sox never gave up on the kid, however, as they would really work with him in 2015 to have a higher batting average, and that’s exactly what would happen.

Bogaerts would finish 2015 with a batting average of .320, but he still wasn’t producing enough to his capability with an OPS of only .776. He also lacked power for a big guy, as he’d only go deep 7 times that year.

Xander improved the following year, making the All-Star team for the first time alongside his teammates David Ortiz, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. He would follow his successful first half with a pretty poor second half, hitting .253 with an OPS of .729 in the final couple months.

He would start off 2017 the same way as he did 2016, strong, just missing out on his second All-Star appearance this time. After getting hit by a pitch in July of that year, however, Xander would struggle mightily the rest of the year and finish with another disappointing overall year.

So what now? I’ll tell you what now, Alex Cora’s coaching staff.

2018 was the year of Bogaerts, and I will definitely give the coaching staff lots of credit for the young shortstop’s turnaround. Not only did he learn how to hit for a high average, but also how to hit with a high OPS, having one almost to .900 with a slugging percentage of .522. His power also improved drastically, as he’d knock 23 over the fence for the year.

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Bogaerts often gets forgotten in the shuffle when it comes to that legendary 2018 Red Sox team. But only because of the fact that MVP Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez were also in that lineup, so its pretty easy to understand why. Don’t let that fool you however, as Bogaerts was one of the more premium shortstops in 2018.

So now we’re in 2019, and let’s face it, this 2019 Red Sox team is nowhere near to what that team was last year up until this point. Not to say they can’t eventually get back to that, but they’ve been incredibly inconsistent thus far. One man who hasn’t been inconsistent? Xander Bogaerts.

Bogaerts has started the year off incredibly hot, hitting .300 with a .536 slugging percentage to go along with his .928 OPS. He has far and away been the most consistent hitter on the Red Sox this year and it’s really great to see a guy like him finally playing up to his potential.

His defense is solid, as he’s made countless defensive gems throughout the year so far. He’s reliable on all parts of the ball, whether it’s defensively or offensively, and that’s all you could ask for out of a player.

I feel like a big reason as to why he gets forgotten is because of the fact that he’s just a quiet person. He’s not too loud or in your face, as he just quietly goes up to the plate and mashes. He really is just perfect for this Red Sox team, and it’s going to be great watching this man for at least the next 7 years as he recently signed an extension earlier in the year.

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So Red Sox Nation, be thankful that we have Xander Bogaerts, the kid out of Aruba, World Series Champion, arguably the best shortstop in baseball, an incredibly important part of the Boston Red Sox, and someone who this team needs to succeed.