Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is MLB’s most underrated star

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox reacts as he wears the Nike City Connect jersey before a game against the Chicago White Sox on April 17, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox reacts as he wears the Nike City Connect jersey before a game against the Chicago White Sox on April 17, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is one of the best players in MLB

The Boston Red Sox are Xander Bogaerts’ team. At 28 years old, Bogaerts has already won two World Championships, three Silver Slugger awards, and has been named to two All-Star teams. He owns a career .291 batting average, and plays solid, above-average defense.

So why does it seem like Bogey is consistently underrated around Major League Baseball?

Entering Sunday’s action, Bogaerts leads baseball with 29 hits, and is sporting the sixth-best .372 average. Among shortstops, his numbers are even more impressive.

It’s time to recognize Bogaerts for who he is: one of the best hitters in baseball.

From a non-statistical standpoint, it’s somewhat understandable that Bogaerts is often overlooked. He’s not as flashy as Francisco Lindor or Fernando Tatis Jr. His power is less prodigious than that of Trevor Story or Corey Seager. He’s not outspoken like Tim Anderson.

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Oddly enough, playing in Boston also seems to diminish Bogaerts’ profile. Even with the departure of icons like Tom Brady and Mookie Betts, Boston is still a sports town flush with talent. The Red Sox haven’t been particularly notable since 2018, and Bogaerts exudes quiet confidence without seeking the spotlight, at least off the field. I’ve run into Bogaerts in the Star Market near Fenway Park, and I’m not sure anyone else even realized they were shopping alongside a Boston superstar.

Now in his ninth year in the league, Bogey may finally be earning the recognition he deserves.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters yesterday that his star shortstop is “underrated.” Legendary sports writer Mike Lupica called Bogaerts “baseball’s most unsung star.”

Friday night’s 6-5 win over Seattle perfectly encapsulates Bogaerts’ talent and value.

In the top of the first, with one run already in for the Mariners and runners on first and third with one out, Bogaerts made a slick diving grab to start an inning-ending double play. In the bottom of the frame, he crushed a two-out, two-run homer to give the Sox the lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, Bogaerts looped a single to drive in his third run of the game, giving Boston a 5-2 edge and knocking the Mariners starter from the game. Finally, after Matt Barnes surrendered a three-run homer in the ninth to bring Seattle within a run, Bogaerts made a nice catch to end the game and seal the win.

Bogey ended the night 2-4 with 3 RBI, a home run, and two solid defensive plays. The de-facto Red Sox captain did it all. As Lupica pointed out, in a lineup that features sluggers J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, it’s telling that Bogaerts bats cleanup.

It can be frustrating to watch a player dominate with such consistency and still be overlooked. While there’s some room for improvement on the defensive side, Bogaerts does not present any glaring holes in his performance that could explain his lack of notoriety. He has been one of the league’s best hitters year in and year out since 2015.

From 2015 through today, Bogaerts is hitting .300 with 162-game averages of 191 hits, 42 doubles, 22 home runs, and 97 RBI. That’s an MVP-caliber resume. And at only 28, he’s still getting better. The shortened 2020 season skews everything, but Bogaerts’ power numbers –– especially home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS –– had been steadily rising each year.

Red Sox fans know how special their shortstop is. Ever since Bogaerts earned a starting spot in the 2013 World Series at only 20 years old, it was clear that his future was bright. 8 years later, Bogaerts has cemented himself as a top-five shortstop in Red Sox history, and the only direction he can go from here is up.

Next. Xander Bogaerts smashes his first home run of 2021. dark

It’s only a matter of time before Bogey receives the respect he deserves. It’s early, but this could be the season Xander Bogaerts claims his rightful place as one of the best players in baseball.