Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts climbs franchise list for shortstops with latest home run
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts reached a home run milestone
Xander Bogaerts is in the prime of his career and already cementing his legacy as one of the best shortstops in Boston Red Sox history.
Bogaerts led off the fourth inning of Sunday’s game against the Texas Rangers by smashing a fastball over the middle of the plate to deep center field for a home run. The 435-foot blast traveled with an exit velocity of 103.7 mph to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
With his fifth home run of the season, Bogaerts now ranks sixth among major league shortstops. He’s batting a scorching .349 following this afternoon’s three-hit day.
Bogaerts got off to a slow start this year and didn’t hit his first homer until April 20, his 18th game of the season. Teammate Eduardo Rodriguez boldly predicted following the game that Bogaerts would set a career-high with 35 home runs, a comment that the Red Sox shortstop modestly brushed aside. After all, he was on pace for only 11 homers at the time. Now he’s on pace for 28, so perhaps E-Rod’s prediction wasn’t so far-fetched.
The 123rd home run of his career moved Bogaerts into sole possession of third place on the Red Sox all-time list among shortstops (minimum 50 percent of games played at the position). Bogaerts had tied Vern Stephens when he hit his last homer on Friday in Texas.
Rico Petrocelli (210) and Nomar Garciaparra (178) are the only shortstops to hit more home runs than Bogaerts in a Red Sox uniform.
Petocelli wasn’t known as a big-time power hitter but he did set a career-high with 40 home runs in 1969 when he made his second All-Star appearance and finished seventh on the AL MVP ballot. His mid-career power surge coincided with MLB lowering the mound following the “Year of the Pitcher” in ’68. Petocelli spent his entire career in Boston and produced steady totals with 12+ homers in 10 consecutive seasons.
Garciaparra rose to instant stardom when he tallied 30 homers in his first full season to capture the Rookie of the Year and Silver Slugger awards. He was on a Hall of Fame trajectory in his early years with the Red Sox, making a handful of All-Star appearances and winning a pair of batting titles.
Injuries would end up spoiling his promising career and he was infamously traded at the deadline of the 2004 season amid whispers of a contract dispute. While he ultimately fell short of the lofty expectations created by the blazing start to his tenure in Boston, there’s no doubt that early-career Nomar was one of the best power threats to ever play the shortstop position.
Now it’s Bogaerts who is making a case for being the best Red Sox shortstop. The 28-year-old still has a long way to go but he’s at least entering the conversation.