Porch: Xander Bogaerts Will Have his Best Season in 2020by Kyle Porch February 16, 2020 0 comments
Now that all the attention is focused on Spring Training, there are no questions about the ability of Xander Bogaerts and what he brings to the table. will the pressure of his new extension slow him up, or will it help him tear it up in 2020?
Fresh off of signing his six-year, $120 million deal last April, Bogaerts put job security and loyalty over a huge payday.
Being a core member of that star-studded farm system from the first half of the last decade, it was vital for the team to lock him up and keep him away from free agency.
Last season became evident that he wants to win in Boston for many years to come. His play during last season also supports that notion.
In 155 games (698 plate appearances) last year, the shortstop hit .309 with 33 home runs, 117 runs batted in, and 190 hits. He notched career highs in doubles (52), home runs, walks (76), OBP (.384), and SLG (.555).
The Red Sox shortstop has feasted on fastballs over his career, but he’s been worse against breaking balls and off-speed pitches. He took a big step forward against off-speed pitches last year, and if he can take a similar step against breaking balls there’s another level to his game. Even though DRS tags him as one of the worst defensive infielders in recent memory, he is an above-average defender who can make plays all across the field, while having great balance and speed to get the ball to where it needs to be.
By fWAR, he was worth 6.8 wins above replacement, making him the eighth-best position player in the sport in 2019. There is a lot of room for him to grow and still be outstanding, and the vast majority of players who have played this game would look at that season as a career year. Wondering if we’ve seen peak Bogaerts is certainly not the same as wondering if he’s declining or is going to get worse or whatever else someone may be able to read into that. It’s simply asking where else he can improve?
The relationship with fellow infielder Rafael Devers is also something truly special to watch and admire. Just as he did David Ortiz when Bogaerts first came up during the 2013 playoff run, Bogaerts immediately took to Devers, who’s raw power and bat speed needed help defensively. This relationship has also instilled some confidence is Devers.
With a lot of fans and analysts alike calling his 2019 season his peak, we obviously have to wait it out to see if that is a fact, or simply more improvements by Bogaerts for 2020 and beyond. While many cannot wait to call him the new face of the franchise, it’ll be fun watching him have his next career-best season in 2020.