In the era of baseball that we live right now Xander Bogaerts is the best right handed hitter in baseball, period. Entering Friday with a league best .352 batting average it begs the question of whether Bogaerts can first sustain this level of success, and two where he stands among the best in the game right now? At the age of 23 I plan to explain why Bogaerts could eventually become the greatest shortstop to play the game even if the notion in itself sounds a bit outlandish.
Where Did The Red Sox Even Find Xander Bogaerts?:
On the pink sandy beaches of Aruba lived a young teenager named Xander Bogaerts (Yes he is from Aruba). The hilarious part of the story is when the Red Sox were doing their due diligence on the area Bogaerts wasn’t even a known commodity. Boston’s scouts in fact were there to scout older brother Jair Bogaerts who was considered a promising catching prospect. When the Sox were getting ready to finilize the deal with the elder Bogaerts the Red Sox simply asked him; Are there any other baseball players on the island worth taking a look at? Little did they know they were soon about to hit the jackpot.
The 16 year old Xander was unheralded but showed the skills of a future big league shortstop. Of course the signing of younger brother Xander could have been nothing more than just a tactic of convincing Jair to sign with Boston as he was sought after by other clubs. This notion is something we will never know for sure. The teenager version of Bogie looked like a normally shaggy southern California kid with beach blonde hair that was rather long and lanky. Former Red Sox scout Mike Lord recalls his first interaction with the 16 year old Xander Bogaerts back in 2009 on the beaches of Aruba.
“You had to double-check yourself,” Lord said via ESPN’s Scott Lauber — but there was something else, something intangible that separated him from his peers.
“I think the X-factor on him — no pun intended — was his makeup,” Lord recalled by phone. “You saw him smile, laugh, just the enjoyment he got from playing the game. They call Aruba ‘one happy island.’ You could see how happy he was. I hope he never loses it.”
Ultimately the Red Sox weren’t convinced but Xander’s mother Sandra Brown would not let the former Red Sox scout leave until he saw her son play. Once they saw Xander’s workout Lord couldn’t wait to send the tape over to his boss Craig Shipley who was the head for Boston’s internal scouting.
“Well, you saw all this athleticism,” said Lord, who coaches high school baseball in Florida. “I can take it back and the bells were just ringing like crazy when I saw him. You hadn’t seen anything like that in a long time, so you’re like, ‘All right, re-calibrate. I’m down in Aruba. There’s only a few [scouts] here. Is this guy really this good?’ So, you had to take another look, and you’re like, ‘Dang it!’ You look at him and you say, ‘This guy could be really good.’ But you’re talking about a 16-year-old kid. For us, it was like, he’s got a chance. In our wildest dreams, I think I told Ship, ‘This guy might hit 30 home runs one day,’ and he’s like, ‘Dude, he might play in an All-Star Game.’ And here it is. Crazy.”
What started out as a simple due diligence turned into a pure strike of gold. Xander was ultimately signed two weeks later $410,000 after only signing older brother Jair $180,000. Even though Jair was the known commodity Boston knew they couldn’t risk losing Xander as the rest of the baseball world didn’t even know who he was. In the end Jair of course never made the big league’s but his brother’s success is something special. Stories like this are one of the reasons I admire this organization far more than others across baseball.
How Good is Xander Bogaerts Right Now?:
Let’s face it folks Xander Bogaerts is the best shortstop in major league baseball and may very well be the best hitter in baseball. After hitting an unbelievable .320 in 2015 it seems bogie it destined to top that number with his current .352 average. What’s more impressive is he also has a .401 on base percentage which is a crucial reason for why the Red Sox has the best offense in baseball. Boston’s heroic Designated Hitter David Ortiz showed his admiration for Bogaerts as well.
“He’s the best shortstop in the game — by far,” admittedly biased Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said via ESPN. “I throw him on top of anybody in the game. He’s in the top tier best players in the game right now. No question. You tell me two players better than him in the game right now, more complete than him. I don’t think there’s that many.”
When you combine the success of Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, and the other Red Sox hitters there is no wonder why Boston is in the hunt for an AL East division crown in 2016. If Boston can fix its disastrous pitching Boston can very well win a world series crown this season. Should that come to formation it would of course be Xander’s 2nd world series ring after winning in 2013 as he took over 3rd base duties for Will Middlebrooks during the ALCS at the age of 19. This feel good story from pimple faced teenage beach bum to best shortstop in baseball doesn’t stop here. Is it possible Xander could be the best shortstop of all time?
How Has Pitching Changed Over The Years:
Offensive numbers are down across the board in major league baseball. The average velocity of fastballs has increased drastically even from 5 years ago. When you think about it hitting .300 is much harder today than it was years ago. Scouting reports are more advanced and every team has multiple bullpen specialists to make life harder in the late innings. The steroid era is over people, what Xander Bogaerts is doing right now is inhuman.
Xander Bogaerts Will Become Greatest Ever?:
In an era where virtually no one hits, Xander Bogaerts and Boston’s offense has brought a real excitement to baseball in 2016. At 23 years of age there isn’t any reason to believe he can’t improve upon his already video game like numbers. When you group Bogaerts in the group of names like Jeter, Wagner, Ripken, and Larkin it is a fair statement to say neither of those greats ever hit with the same veracity that Bogaerts is right now. The key for Bogaerts now will be consistency and continuing to stay focused. As of now it appears Bogaerts has no weakness and will be a major force in the Red Sox lineup for years to come. If Bogaerts continues his historic 2016 season it would easily rank as the best ever for a major league shortstop as even Derek Jeter never hit .350 in a season.