Last October, the world got its first extended look at 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts. He only played in 18 games during the 2013 regular season, but took over as the Boston Red Sox starting third baseman in the postseason and hit .296 with a .412 on-base percentage in 12 games. This season Bogaerts is leading the team in hits and is quickly becoming a star.
Bogaerts, who arrived in the majors with a ton of hype, is certainly living up to it in 2014. In 55 games for the Red Sox this season, he is hitting .300 with four home runs, 15 RBIs and has a.391 on-base percentage. Only Jose Bautista (.441) and Shin-Soo Choo (.412) have a higher on-base percentage in American League.
To put into prospective how impressive Bogaerts has been thus far, only shortstops Arky Vaughan, Alex Rodriguez, Rogers Hornsby and Donie Bush have posted a .380+ OBP while qualifying for the batting title at age 21 or younger. Vaughan is a Hall of Famer, Rodriguez would be a lock for the hall if not for the alleged steroid use and Hornsby is arguable the greatest shortstop of all-time. While Bogaerts is moving to third base once Stephen Drew joins the Red Sox, this is still a great accomplishment.
Bogaerts ranks second among all major league shortstops this season with 1.7 wins above replacement and is second with a .834 OPS. The only AL shortstop ahead of him is Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox as he has a 2.7 wins above replacement and a .836 OPS.
No matter if he is selected as shortstop or third base, if Bogaerts continues to play like he has the first two months of the season, he will be on the American League All-Star team. If that were to happen, Bogaerts would join a very small and prestigious list of players age 21 and under that have been selected to play in the summer classic. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Starlin Castro, Justin Upton and Elvis Andrus are the six players age 21 and under who have earned All-Star honors over the last five seasons.
The Red Sox gambled last winter by letting established players like Drew, Ellsbury and Saltalamacchia leave. While the team hasn’t gotten the same production from the center field and catcher positions, Bogaerts has stepped up and become the Red Sox best hitter so far this season. It may be early, but Bogaerts looks like a future superstar in the making.