By Steve Perrault: Follow on Twitter @Steve_Perrault
On a night where David Ortiz, the current face of the Red Sox (and maybe all of baseball), was honored at Fenway for hitting his 500th career home run, it was the young shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, who stole the show.
Last night, in a back-and-forth game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Bogaerts was 2 for 5 with a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning that put the Red Sox on top for good. It was the first grand slam this season for Boston since a Hanley Ramirez (remember him) slam on Opening Day in Philadelphia way back in early April.
Last year, the Red Sox weren’t even sure if Bogaerts would be the starting shortstop for the 2015 campaign. Now he could be the face of the franchise for the next decade.
It has been common knowledge that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia have been the main leaders of the Red Sox for the majority of the past nine seasons. While Ortiz may be the hot topic right now, his career is not just on the “back nine”, but maybe even the 17th green. Dustin Pedroia hasn’t been able to play a full season since signing his seven-year, $100 million deal due to injuries; which surely has the incoming president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, ecstatic. Unlike Ortiz and Pedroia, Bogaerts has stayed fully healthy thus far and has proven that he has what it takes to lead this team for years to come.
Bogaerts finished the 2014 season batting .240 with an OBP of .297 and 46 RBI. With 13 games left in 2015, Bogaerts has the 2nd highest average in the American League at .323, while adding a .352 OBP with 78 RBI. Bogaerts also leads all American League shortstops this season in runs, hits, RBI, slugging percentage, and WAR.
And then you see this..
It’s important to also factor in the inconsistency the Red Sox have had at the shortstop position since the departure of Nomar Garciaparra at the trade deadline in 2004. Here is a list of Red Sox Opening Day starting shortstops, and their eventual destinations, since the departure of Garciaparra:
2014, 2015: Xander Bogaerts
2013: Jose Iglesias (Traded to Tigers)
2012: Mike Aviles (Traded to Blue Jays)
2010, 2011: Marco Scutaro (Traded to Rockies)
2009: Jed Lowrie (Traded to Astros)
2007, 2008: Julio Lugo (Traded to Cardinals)
2006: Alex Gonzalez (Granted free agency)
2005: Edgar Renteria (Traded to Braves)
Clearly the Red Sox haven’t found much consistency in a shortstop dating back to the departure of No. 5, so making Bogaerts a long-term piece of this team would make plenty of sense for the front office moving forward.
Last night was just a small example of the shining light that Xander Bogaerts has been in an otherwise dull season, and if the Red Sox are smart, they will make the young phenom the face of their franchise for the foreseeable future.
Follow on Twitter: @Steve_Perrault