Red Sox Off-Season Profiles: Xander Bogaerts
Boston, MA - When reflecting on the 2018 Boston Red Sox season, there are probably a few things that will come to mind before anything else. For one, the Red Sox won the World Series so that's always a lovely first thought. For another, the dominant pitching of Chris Sale and David Price came into its own. Additionally, Boston boasted what very well could have been the greatest defensive outfield of all-time in Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Andrew Benintendi. And, of course, fans likely think of the fact that Betts and J.D. Martinez put together two MVP caliber seasons.
But one overlooked element of the success of the 2018 Red Sox is the emergence of Xander Bogaerts as one of Boston's most reliable players and one of the league's best shortstops.
Bogaerts first came up for Boston as a defensive alternative at shortstop to Stephen Drew in 2013 during Boston's run for the World Series title. Since then, Bogaerts has had a bit of trouble staying healthy and living up to his full potential. Statistically, his best season came in 2015 when Bogaerts posted a 4.5 WAR over the course of the season and injuries have kept him from approaching this number again.
He seemed primed to have another extremely valuable season in 2017 when he started off the season with guns a blazing, but suffered a shoulder injury that left him a shell of his former playing self for the rest of the season. He still hit .273, but his 2.2 WAR on the season showed that it was clear that he could do more.
And that's just what he did in 2018. He still got hurt during the season and he played the least amount of games since 2013, but this was because of a more cautious approach to his rehabilitation. And it worked because Bogaerts posted a 3.8 WAR, his highest since his 2015 effort en route to the best power numbers of his career. Bogaerts posted a .288 batting average with twenty-three home runs and one hundred and three RBIs, easily the two best numbers of his career in a single season.
In a lineup with Martinez and Betts, it proved very worthwhile for Boston to have the underrated ace up their sleeve in Bogaerts.