Red Sox shortstop vs the AL East
- Bo Bichette, Blue Jays (10)
- Wander Franco, Rays (7)
- Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox (5)
- Gio Urshela, Yankees (3)
- Jorge Mateo, Orioles (1)
This was the toughest decision on the list. The AL East features three top-tier shortstops, each with a solid case as the best in the division. Ultimately, I chose to give the nod to the Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette. Playing in the shadow of Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bichette is a legitimate star in his own right. He is coming off a season where he led the league with 191 hits and finished in the top ten in the AL in both average (.298) and stolen bases (25). He also played in 159 of the possible 162 games and hit 29 home runs. As he enters his age 24 season, it’s scary to think that Bichette’s best baseball is still in front of him.
As great Bichette is, he might be eclipsed as the best young shortstop in the division by Wander Franco. The number one prospect in baseball was called up in June and proved he belonged from his very first game. Franco ended the season with a terrific .288/.347/.463 slash line and somehow produced 3.5 WAR in 70 games. The sky is the limit for the 22-year-old.
Taking a backseat to the rising youngsters, Xander Bogaerts would be the top shortstop in many other divisions. He started the year on an absolute tear that earned him a starting spot in the All-Star Game. Bogaerts may have a better track record than Bichette and Franco, but a mediocre second half (.254/.346/.426 from July 1 on) and poor defense causes him to slip to third in these rankings.
Gio Urshela transformed himself from middling utilityman to top-tier shortstop with two incredible seasons from 2019-2020, but he fell back down to earth in 2021. His 96 OPS+ was a 41-point drop from 2020, while his 1.0 WAR was a third of what it was in 2019. That begs the question: Which season is more accurately a reflection of the player he really is?
Jorge Mateo was one day considered the Yankees shortstop of the future, but now he is just a journeyman middle infielder who can run a little bit. He’ll be the Orioles starting shortstop in 2022 because, well, someone has to be.