The Xander Bogaerts Comeback Tour is in Full Swing

Since Xander Bogaerts burst onto the scene with his 2013 rookie year playoff performance, his time with the Red Sox has had its fair share of ups and downs. Having only played 18 regular season games in 2013, Bogaerts came alive in Boston’s World Series run. Batting .296 with 2 RBI, giving Red Sox Nation a reason to be excited for this young shortstop.

Xander Bogaerts

His role increased dramatically in 2014 and thereafter; he hasn’t played in less than 140 games since the 2013 season. The shortstop position for the Red Sox has been a carousel since the departure of Nomar Garciaparra in 2004, and Xander Bogaerts looked to be the man to fill the void and finally afford the Red Sox some stability at one of the most important positions on the diamond.

Xander Bogaerts: Red Sox Shortstop

In 2014, Bogaerts’ first season as full-time shortstop, the 21-year-old left Red Sox Nation underwhelmed and wanting more, posting only a .240 batting average with 46 RBI in nearly 600 plate appearances.

Over the next two seasons, Bogaerts finally validated the excitement surrounding his rookie year with two consecutive Silver Slugger Awards. His batting average skyrocketed to .320 in 2015 and his RBI total nearly doubled. He showed even more improvement in 2016, driving in a career-high 89 runs and playing his way onto the American League All-Star Team for the first and only time in his young career.

Then 2017 happened. Bogaerts, battling a hand injury in the second half of the year, swung his way right back into Red Sox Nation’s doghouse, batting only .273 with a meager 62 RBI, despite playing in only 9 fewer games than his All-Star 2016 season.

The Future of Xander Bogaerts

With Boston’s significant grocery list of contractual obligations, Bogaerts’ future with the Red Sox after 2017 was uncertain. But through six games, it looks as if “X” is returning to his All-Star form.

Xander Bogaerts currently leads the team in batting average (.357), hits (10), and doubles (5). He joins Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Eduardo Nunez as the team’s home run leaders with one so far.

Statistics aside, the eye-test alone is promising enough. Bogaerts is simply hitting the ball harder than last year, despite the small sample-size. While that may just be a result of his healthy hand, it also suggests that he may have figured out his swing after his first few seasons were plagued with inconsistency.

Will he be the Red Sox shortstop for years to come? Only time will tell, as this team is no stranger to instability at his position. His explosive start to the 2018 campaign is very promising, not only for his future, but for a Red Sox offense trying to find its rhythm and compete with the firepower of the Yankees.

The Sox have their first test against their rivals this Tuesday when the Yankees visit Fenway Park at 7:10pm.

Red Sox Retire Wade Boggs’ Number

On Thursday, May 26th, the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ jersey number 26 during a ceremony at Fenway Park. Boggs played for the Boston Red Sox from 1982 to 1992 before departing for the New York Yankees in 1993. During his time in Boston, Boggs won six Silver Slugger Awards (eight overall), was on seven all-star teams (12 overall). Boggs also played on the 1986 American League championship team that lost the World Series after a devastating error made in Game 6, leading the New York Mets to win Game 7 and the series. As the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ number, another legend is honored for his accomplishments.

Some aren’t happy that Boggs’ number is being retired for several reasons. First, BoggsRed Sox Retire Wade Boggs didn’t finish his career in Boston. In order to have your number retired by the Red Sox, you have to meet certain requirements, but in recent years those requirements have been ignored. The requirements include playing ten years for the Red Sox, be a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and retire from baseball as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Several players whose numbers are retired by the Red Sox do not meet those requirements. Pedro Martinez did not play for Boston for ten years, nor did he finish his career in Boston. Carlton Fisk finished his career in Chicago with the White Sox. Johnny Pesky isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame. If these are rules that former players have to follow, then why are they suddenly being discarded? Perhaps it’s time to discard the rules altogether and examine likely candidates on a case by case basis. That would make it much easier for Dwight Evans‘ number to also be retired.

Others are mad at Boggs because he played for the New York Yankees, our longtime rivals. Honestly, one can’t blame Boggs for leaving. Like any player in his position, Boggs wanted a World Series ring and frankly, the Boston Red Sox weren’t showing a level of skill that was going to get them to a World Series. Not to mention the Red Sox weren’t willing to give Boggs the contract he deserved to resign with the team in 1993. Boggs had many good years left in him, which he proved when he joined the Yankees, but the Red Sox refused to honor that, with Boggs being one of many good players the team has lost in years past. Let’s hope that lesson is something Dave Dombrowski keeps in mind when Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and Brock Holt’s contracts end.

Another legend will join the ranks of Boston greats when the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ number on May 26th! The ceremony will start shortly before the 7:05 game against the Colorado Rockies.

Red Sox Leadership Up For Grabs

Ever since David Ortiz announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2016 season many have wondered who will bear the Red Sox leadership torch. After all, Ortiz’s shoes will be hard to fill. Not only is Oritz a member of the 500 Home Run Club and a 9 time All-Star, but he’s the last remaining Red Sox player on the current roster who was on the 2004 World Series team— the team that broke the curse and won a title for Boston for the Ortiz Red Sox Leadershipfirst time in eighty-six years. Whoever takes the baton from Ortiz as the next leader for the Red Sox will have the weight of the team on his shoulders.

Many are looking at Xander Bogaerts as the one who will take the torch from Ortiz after this season. Boegarts moved to no. 3 in the lineup last season ahead of Ortiz, a sign of the faith manager John Farrell has in him. After winning the Silver Slugger Award for hitting .320 last season, Bogaerts stands out as one of the more dependable hitters in the lineup. After I personally saw Bogaerts hit his first career grand slam against the Tampa Bay Rays last September, I became convinced right then and there that he could be the next Red Sox leader, especially since both he and Ortiz can hit in clutch situations.

Who Else Could Play A Red Sox Leadership Role?

Mookie Betts is another name that’s starting to emerge in connection to Red Sox leadership as he continues to improve his hitting and fielding. While Betts hit a respectable .281 with 18 home runs last season, it was his fielding that made Red Sox fans and foes’  jaws drop as they jumped out of their seats. Last September in a game against the Orioles, Betts robbed Chris Davis of a home run in the top of the 9th when he leaped against the Red Sox bullpen wall to catch the ball. Red Sox players and fans erupted in cheers as Betts came back to earth with the ball firmly in his glove. Betts is also a danger on the base paths after stealing 21 bases last season. Being at least a three-tool player for the Sox would make him a strong model and inspiration for the rest of the team.

Finally, I think another strong contender is Brock Holt. Yes, he’s not quite the power hitter we’d like him to be, as he only hit 2 home runs last season and has a career total of 6, but his solid batting average and all-star appearance last season makes him a dependable player who has what it takes to rally the team when they need it most.

Red Sox leadership isn’t anything to be taken lightly. Whoever takes over Ortiz’s spot will have a lot to live up to. But if any of these three players listed above continue to play as well as they do, it’ll only be a matter of time before one of them emerges as a natural leader. Before you know it, he’ll be leading the Red Sox to another World Series.