No other MLB player is doing what Xander Bogaerts is doing
The shortstop is only 28 years old and already has three Silver Slugger awards, three All-Star games, and two World Series championships under his belt. Between 2018-2020, he’s finished 17th or better in AL MVP voting, including fifth in 2019.
The Red Sox might be floundering more than a fish on dry land lately, but Bogaerts continues to be the literal X-Factor. He’s been even better than you think; according to Red Sox Notes, the Twitter account run by Red Sox media relations to provide stats on the team and players, Bogaerts is the only qualified player to hit .300+ and slug .500+ in each of the last three seasons (2019-21).
The only qualified player.
The funny thing about Bogaerts is that these numbers are both astounding and totally expected at the same time. This is his ninth season, and Friday will be the anniversary of his MLB debut; his offensive prowess is par for the course by now. Like fine wine, he’s only getting better with age.
Here’s how Bogaerts already ranks among Red Sox shortstops:
- Games played: 4th (1,084)
- At-bats: 2nd (4,168)
- Runs: 4th (652)
- Hits: 4th (1,212)
- Doubles: 3rd (268)
- Home runs: 3rd (137)
In April, he tied Joe Cronin for fifth on the home runs list; he’s now passed Cronin, John Valentin, and Vern Stephens.
Among all players in Red Sox franchise history, Bogaerts is already 24th in WAR for position players (28.4) and 13th in offensive WAR (34.6). Only 21 men have played more games in a Red Sox uniform, and by early September, Bogaerts (1,084) will surpass Everett Scott (1,096) and then Rick Miller (1,101). By the end of the year, he’ll likely have more Red Sox plate appearances and hits than Manny Ramirez.
Again, Bogaerts is only 28 years old.
Xander Bogaerts is having an amazing season
While many players who put up absurd numbers in 2020 are regressing towards their mean in the larger sample size of a full 162-game season, Bogaerts is having a better season than last. His batting average, on-base, and slugging percentages are higher, as is his OPS. He’s also lowered his strikeout rate and raised his walks rate, average exit velocity, and percentage of hard-hit balls.
On Wednesday night, Bogaerts hit his 19th home run of the season. He also shares the lead for doubles in MLB (32) with JD Martinez and Jesse Winker. The player known affectionately as X-Man hit eight doubles in 56 games last year; he has 32 in 114 games so far.
The three seasons in which Bogaerts put up the numbers Sox Notes tweeted about have not been great for the Red Sox as a whole. In 2019, the defending champion Red Sox underperformed to an 84-78 record and did not make the postseason. In 2020, they were dismal in the mercifully-shortened season, finishing 24-36, dead last in the AL East. The 2021 season is still unwritten, as Natasha Bedingfield would say, but the Red Sox have been circling the drain in August; sweeping the Orioles doesn’t count for much.
But imagine how bad each of these seasons would have been without Bogaerts.
Every year, even the worst teams have good players. To ignore that is an insult to the hardworking, excellent players around MLB. And the Red Sox are far from the worst, though it feels like it lately. They’re 69-54 and have a ton of star power, including their North Star, Bogaerts.