Before we get to the Xander Bogaerts MVP case, let’s give credit it where it’s due. Mike Trout continues to show us all why he may go down as one of the most talented baseball players of all time. Nobody in the league has been able to string together so many Top-2 MVP finishes before turning 30, let alone in their careers.
But the pool of talent in the majors doesn’t just end at Trout. In fact, the crop of shortstops currently roaming the middle infields across the show is arguably the most talented group the league has seen in decades. Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Andrelton Simmons, Trevor Story, and Javier Baez are big names that come to mind.
But the one player that has stood up against them all- and might be coming for Trout- is Xander Bogaerts.
Bogaerts has surged ahead of other AL infielders
The Xander Bogaerts MVP case is a movement that has really gained steam over the last two months. With the aforementioned deep talent pool, there’s an awful lot of competition for the league’s top shortstop each year. Perhaps unbelievably, it could be argued that Bogaerts quietly ascended to the top spot, as flashy seasons by Lindor and Correa often stole the spotlight from Boston’s recently extended star. That’s no longer the case.
Understanding the Xander Bogaerts MVP case can be as simple as looking at his eye popping numbers. Just this last week, he came off a stretch in which he recorded at least 1 hit, 1 run, and 1 RBI in a historical 8 straight games. The only other Red Sox in club history to achieve that? Ted Williams. Yes, the Splendid Splinter. Ted accomplished the feat twice, with separate streaks of 8 and 11 games. Certainly nothing to sneer at.
Need more convincing? Let’s take a peak at his numbers as a whole. The 26-year-old was slashing .312/.399/.575 entering play on July 17, with 21 HR and 74 RBI. He had homered in 4 of his last 5 games, and in 5 of 7. He joins Trout as the only players in the AL batting .300 or higher with 20+ HR.
Is that enough yet? How about WAR? WAR’s value can vary based on metrics, but according to Fangraphs, Bogaerts’ 4.1 WAR trails only Trout (6.5), Cody Bellinger (5.7) and Christian Yelich (5.2) for tops in the majors. All three of them are MVP candidates that are putting up out-of-this-world numbers. But so is Bogaerts, and that shows that he belongs.
Bogaerts sits just behind Trout in most AL offensive categories
Still have not been told enough in the Xander Bogaerts MVP case? Let’s look at where he places among league leaders across other offensive categories.
He’s T-1st in the AL with Trout in XBH (51), 2nd to Trout in SLG (.575) and OPS (.974), T-2nd with Trout in runs (74), 2nd in the AL in 2B (30), 3rd in total bases (203), and 4th in OBP (.399). Pretty great, right?
The crazy thing is, it seems like most baseball fans needed convincing to even make Bogaerts an All-Star this season. He did eventually make it in after injuries knocked out other stars, but he didn’t even finish in the the Top 3 in voting at the position. The best shortstop in the American League, by a healthy margin, didn’t get voted in to the mid-summer classic.
Trout holds a comfy lead across most offensive categories, and might even be putting together his best season yet. But there’s no doubt that Bogaerts has cemented himself as a superstar in this league. For him, it’s time to start stealing some of the spotlight away from L.A. and bringing it back to Beantown, where one of the hottest shows in town is here to stay.