This was once an actual exchange with a good friend of mine.
Me: “You have to watch this Xander Bogaerts character play baseball.”
Friend: “Xander??!?! That sounds like an alien’s name.”
If anyone had watched Xander play over the past few years, they would know he his human. His performance in last year’s postseason made me wonder if he was from another planet. I will discuss more in my section of this article, but let’s take a look at the Red Sox shortstop scenario for 2014, one that doesn’t currently involve Stephen Drew.
I am very high on the Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts. Though his numbers while up for the last 18 games aren’t eye popping; .250/.320/.364/.684, with two Doubles and one HR, I believe he will learn quickly and improve immediately. It isn’t unreasonable to expect him to hit .275 with 10-12 HRs in his first full season.
Defensively Bogey is still learning. I would call his defense rather “choppy” and not as “fluid” as someone like Stephen Drew or Jose Iglesias. Though I believe he is better off at 3rd base with his size (6’-3”), with time and repetition he will improve enough to be an adequate, everyday shortstop. Patience is key while dealing with some of the ups and downs of a rookie. He is a level-headed young man that doesn’t appear to be overwhelmed by the big stage. The sky is the limit for Bogaerts.
So back to Xander and his out-of-this world talent. What makes me think he may not be from this planet was his ability to remain calm during last year’s playoffs. His teammate Will Middlebrooks was on the opposite end of the spectrum, which is more normal for players of their age and experience. Xander showed plate discipline and played excellent defense from the third base spot.
This year he is pencilled in as the starting shortstop on opening day. Barring the resigning of Drew, nothing should change Xander’s status. I can’t look at his numbers and assess how he will do this season. The sample size is just too small. I do think he finishes the season hitting .300 with over 14 HRs and 70 RBIs. The defense may be a bit of an adventure as he is quite big for the position, but Dustin Pedroia will help him adjust because we know Pedey doesn’t want to be part of a bad middle infield.