Like most of his teammates, Xander Bogaerts has been having an incredible start to the season. After starting the season 1-for-12, he went 23-for-49 (.469) with a 1.192 OPS in the following 13 games. Coming into tonight’s game, he was leading the American League with a .393 AVG (3rd overall in MLB) and was tied for the AL lead in hits (tied for 2nd overall in MLB).
But until last night, he had yet to hit his first home run of the season. There were quite a few balls that looked like they’d be the one, but it wasn’t until April 20th that it finally happened. And just now, he homered again, a Monstah bomb that moves him up an exclusive list. Last night, Bogaerts tied Joe Cronin for 5th-most home runs by a Red Sox shortstop, with 119 apiece; tonight, he passed him. It’s likely he’ll be third on this list by May.
No matter how well or poorly this team plays, it never feels quite right if Bogaerts is struggling; he’s the linchpin of this team. At 28 years old, he’s now the longest-tenured player on the team, having made his debut during the historic 2013 Boston Strong season. Over the last few seasons, he’s evolved into the team leader on the field and in the clubhouse. But despite his phenomenal career thus far, perennially overlooked and underrated in MLB. It was somewhat understandable when superstar Mookie Betts was on the team, but it just never seems like Bogaerts gets the attention he deserves. Since the beginning of the 2019 season, his 45 HR led American League shortstops in home runs. His home run tonight tied Trevor Story for most among MLB shortstops (min. 50% games played at short.)
The X-Man is on pace for an historic season with Boston. Tonight was his 987th career game with the Red Sox; by early May, he’ll be the 30th player in franchise history to appear in 1,000 or more games with the Sox. Valentin, who ranks 4th on the aforementioned home-run list, played in 991 games with the Red Sox. Keep an eye on Bogaerts as the Red Sox host the Mariners for a 4-game series to see if he’ll tie or surpass Valentin in the franchise rankings.
This is Xander Bogaerts’ team. This is Xander Bogaerts’ time.
Photo: USA TODAY