From Orlando Cabrera to Edgar Renteria and even Julio Lugo, the Red Sox have been desperately trying to fill the void between second and third. The position has been filled by a different player almost every season since Nomar Garciaparra left for the Cubs in 2004. Luckily for Sox fans, that time of guessing and hoping has come to an end.
They have found their guy in the 23 year old Xander Bogaerts. Tied with Baltimore atop the AL East, the Red Sox are putting together a very good season, mainly led by its young crew. That crew includes Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Three of the most exciting players in baseball just happen to be playing their home games at Fenway Park.
Bradley Jr led a hit streak to just under 30 games, while Bogaerts finished right behind him at 26. Mookie put together an unfathomable string of at bats going 5-for-7 with all 5 hits being home runs. While you can make the case that any of those 3 players has been the most electric, there is no doubt that Bogaerts has been the most consistent.
Currently leading the batting race at .358, Bogaerts' bat has been the most exciting part of his game. While Mookie and Bradley had their own flashes of brilliance, Xander has put this offense on his shoulders since the beginning of the season. He hit for .290 in April, .395 in May and is hitting .400 in the month of June. Not only consistent, but improving.
Although he has been hitting consistently, his power was a concern for many people, putting up just 7 homeruns in 156 games last season. However, Bogaerts already has 8 homeruns in 60 games this season, and is on pace to hit 20+. With his average steadily improving as his career advances, there's no reason to think his power won't follow.
Most would expect a one sided player with such great offensive skill, but that is not the case with Xander Bogaerts. He has just two errors on the season, good enough for a .991 fielding percentage. Bogaerts also has 31 double plays, behind only his counterparts in Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez.
As I said before, you can make the case that either Bogaerts, Bradley or Betts is the most exciting player on this team, but there is no doubt that Bogaerts is the most valuable.
While Mookie and JBJ are very important to this roster, the Red Sox have been able to go out and find outfielders and win with them. They even got a few World Series rings with Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield. They have not been able to do the same at shortstop.
My point being that it is a lot harder to find a solid player at shortstop, especially one that produces like Bogaerts is right now. Looking down the list of shortstops in the American League, Red Sox fans should count their blessings they stumbled across this Aruban stud.
By Matt Watts