Xander Bogaerts starts at shortstop for the Red Sox on Opening Day
Let’s try this again. Opening Day at Fenway Park was postponed by some sinister looking clouds hovering in the vicinity of the Boston area on Thursday. The Boston Red Sox will host the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon instead and they have submitted their lineup card to prove they are serious this time. That lineup is highlighted by Xander Bogaerts, who is making his eighth consecutive Opening Day start at the shortstop position.
This is notable because the eight Opening Day starts ties Bogaerts with Everett Scott (1914-1921) for the most in franchise history by a shortstop, per the Twitter account @SoxNotes.
Only eight players have made more than eight consecutive Opening Day starts at a single position in Red Sox history:
Carl Yastrzemski (Left field – 12)
Dustin Pedroia (Second base – 11)
Dwight Evans (Right field – 10)
Harry Hooper (Right field – 10)
Wade Boggs (Third base – 10)
Jason Varitek (Catcher – 10)
David Ortiz (Designated hitter – 9)
Jim Rice (Left field – 9)
Bogaerts will share the left side of the infield with Rafael Devers for the fourth consecutive season. Freddy Parent and Jimmy Collins (1901-1906) are the only Red Sox shortstop/third base duo with more consecutive Opening Day starts together.
Opening Day has been a mixed bag for Bogaerts throughout his career with a couple of strong performances and some duds. Overall, he’s hitting .296 with two walks and four doubles in seven appearances on the first game of the season.
2014: 1-for-3, double, walk
2015: 0-for-3, walk
2018: 3-for-4, 2 doubles, 2 runs scored
2019: 1-for-4, double
2020: 1-for-4, 1 run scored, 1 RBI
As miserable as last season was for the Red Sox, Bogaerts was one of the few who thrived. He hit .300 with a .867 OPS, 11 home runs and 28 RBI in 56 games during the shortened season. Bogaerts had a career year in 2019 when he hit .309 with a .939 OPS, 33 home runs, and 117 RBI. He was named to his second career All-Star appearance, earned his first Sliver Slugger award and finished fifth on the AL MVP ballot.
The 28-year-old enters this season as the longest-tenured member of the Red Sox. He is the centerpiece of this team’s core and has emerged as a leader in the clubhouse. The Red Sox need Bogaerts to set the tone for this lineup.
It’s interesting that Boston has Bogaerts batting in the cleanup spot on Opening Day behind J.D. Martinez. The veteran DH had a horrible 2020 season so slotting their best bat behind him in the lineup could be an attempt to get Martinez going. He should see some pitches to hit with Bogaerts lurking on deck.
The Red Sox have added some new pieces but Bogaerts is the one constant they have been able to count on for the last eight seasons. He’s already tied the franchise record for the most Opening Day starts by a shortstop and considering he’s locked up through at least next year, there’s a strong chance that he’ll hold that record by himself when we kick off next season.