Xander Bogaerts
Despite being the best shortstop in baseball, Xander Bogaerts continues to get disrespected among the greats at the position (Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

A few years ago I wrote an article about how Xander Bogaerts could become the greatest shortstop in the history of the sport of baseball. Predictably, I was met with a lot of pushback. It was fair criticism. I was calling a 23-year-old Aruban shortstop the greatest player at his position ever. That’s a crazy take. Now at the age of 26, that take really doesn’t look that crazy despite the lack of love around the game. Xander Bogaerts has somehow become the best shortstop in the sport and never gets talked about. Bogaerts has also become the most disrespected player in baseball.

When you think of the best shortstop in baseball, who comes to mind? Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Javier Baez are regarded as the cream of the crop. Manny Machado can also be thrown into that mix but has played third base as well on numerous occasions. Then you have that next tier of Trevor Story, Andrelton Simmons, and Corey Seager. That’s what the media will tell you. In fact, prior to the start of the season, MLB.com released their top 10 shortstops in baseball. Below is their list.

  1. Francisco Lindor
  2. Javier Báez
  3. Trevor Story
  4. Manny Machado
  5. Andrelton Simmons
  6. Carlos Correa
  7. Corey Seager
  8. Paul DeJong
  9. Jean Segura
  10. Didi Gregorius

Xander Bogaerts was excluded from that list. The funniest part is that he’s better than all of them. It’s not really debatable either. From 2015-2019, Xander ranks first among shortstops in average (.295), RBI’s (375), Runs (413), Doubles (164), and hits (760). Yet somehow, Bogaerts is ignored. It makes zero sense.

“He’s very special,” said pitcher David Price. “Offensively, defensively, he’s one of the elite shortstops in all of baseball. I’ll take him over anybody.”

Amen to that, David. There isn’t a shortstop in baseball I’d rather have. Bogaerts does everything well. Drives in runs, hits for contact, power, and is regarded as an elite defender.

Just days after the start of the 2019 season, the Red Sox rewarded their shortstop with a huge 6-year extension worth $120 million. A lot of fans maybe thought that contract was an overpay. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Bogaerts could have gotten more on the open market but wanted to stay with the Sox and probably for slightly less. That’s exactly what you want. Xander is the same guy every day and is known as an awesome guy in the clubhouse.

Xander Bogaerts
From 2015-2019, Bogaerts leads all shortstops in average, RBI’s, runs scored, doubles, and hits. Why is not even debated? (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Now at the age of 26, Bogaerts is reaching new heights. When Alex Cora became the manager a year ago, he challenged Bogaerts to change his approach. Instead of hitting .320 with soft contact, he wanted .280 with power. That’s not an easy thing to do. Well, Bogaerts responded. He had his first 100 RBI season in 2018. Bogie’s 2018 batting line finished at .288/.360/.522. That also included an OPS of .883 and 23 homers. Now to start 2019, Bogaerts has taken that original challenge an exceeded it. Bogaerts has slashed a line of /.304/.383/.545. His OPS is also up at .927 and already has 12 homers. Cora and hitting coach Tim Hyers deserve a ton of credit for turning Bogaerts into not just a superstar, but the best shortstop in the sport.

“I think my mindset has changed,” Bogaerts said. “I remember before, I used to see a big hole up the middle and just want to get a base hit up the middle, run hard, maybe get an infield hit. I don’t think like that no more. I think it’s the mindset I go up to the plate with. I still see that big hole, but it’s not something I want to do. I want to drive it.”

That single up the middle has now turned into a 2-run double. That’s the difference between good and great. Great is exactly what Bogaerts has become. There’s no other way to say it, the man is just continuing to improve. The walk percentage is at a career high 11.7%. The weighted runs created plus is also at a career high 142. Bogaerts is doing damage. Only Jorge Polanco has a higher WRC+ but doesn’t have close to the track record Bogaerts does.

Historically when you look at the best shortstops in baseball, you start to realize that Bogaerts has a very realistic shot to be the best one ever. Ozzie Smith was a defensive wizard but only a .262 career hitter. Derek Jeter had a .310 career average but never hit for serious power outside of a couple years (career-high 24 homers). Then you have guys like Cal Ripken, Barry Larkin, and Alex Rodriguez. I’ll never say a bad word about Ripken. ARod still played a ton of games at third. So did Cal.

The truth is this modern era is the best collection of shortstops to ever play the game. They hit for more damage than all of those guys did. Lindor, Baez, Correa? Nope, Bogaerts is the class of all of them. It’s time to give Xander Bogaerts the respect he deserves. Xander Bogaerts is a superstar and the best shortstop baseball has to offer. Let’s also not forget that Xander Bogaerts is a 2-time World Series Champion and one of the leaders in the Red Sox clubhouse. He’s also taken Rafael Devers under his wing as the young third baseman has blossomed into a star of his own. I think that counts for something too. Xander Bogaerts is the best Shortstop in Baseball and also most disrespected.