By John Leclair – @JLeclair_
November 2013 Xander Bogaerts took the World by storm by performing on the biggest stage any 20-year-old rookie could: The World Series. He was once considered the consensus #1 prospect in all of baseball, touted as the type of player that would compete for MVP awards. In May 2016 Stephen Vogt of the Oakland A’s told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that Bogaerts might just be the best hitter in the game. Now fast forward to 2017 and Xander Bogaerts is getting pinch hit for like he did this past Thursday night against the Yankees.
Since the 2016 All Star Break Xander is hitting .263/.324/.400/.724. Those certainly aren’t MVP type numbers. To make matters worse since the 2017 All Star Break he’s hitting .205/.279/.308/.587. What’s the problem with Xander? Is it the wrist injury he suffered earlier this year? Is it durability issues? One thing is for sure this is not what you’d expect from a former consensus top prospect.
One thing that seems to fly under the radar with Xander is the fact that he never really gained the additional strength that many projected he would. He was projected to add muscle to his frame and was thought to be a 20 – 25 Home Run kind of guy but the addition of any strength just seems to be completely absent turning him into a singles gap hitter. Maybe he was against adding any strength to his frame in fear of a move to 3rd Base? Xander has made it known that he prefers playing Short Stop and lets it be known that’s the position he wants to play. If he got any larger in size he would most likely need to be moved to 3rd Base and maybe this halted Xander Bogaerts progression as a player.
He’s due to be a Free agent after the 2018 season and many must wonder, is he playing himself out of a giant payday? Many thought he’d be a top Short Stop at this point in his career and back in 2015 he was looking like it, but now you should wonder if he continues down this path next season is his job as a starter even safe? He already was sat down Friday night in favor of Eduardo Nunez. It’s in both Xander and the Red Sox best interest for him to figure out and fix whatever problems he is experiencing offensively both for the present and for the long term.