Xander Bogaerts could make plenty o' all-star teams throughout his career. That march to success really didn't happen last season. Overall he was productive, but the fact is that his effort was all over the map, he couldn't get on base and didn't steal bases. Still, the talent is substantial. Will his production match his skills in 2015 or is he still a year or two away from consolidating those skills into big league success?
2009: Signed by the Red Sox as an amateur out of Aruba.
2010: As a 17 year old he appeared in 63 games in the Dominican Summer League. He hit .314 with a .396 OBP and drove him 42 runners while scoring 39 times.
2011: In 72 games at Single-A he hit .260 with 16 homers, 45 RBIs and 38 runs scored.
2012: Baseball America (58th overall), Baseball Prospectus (32nd) and MLB.com (76th) all ranked him highly. Appeared in 127 games at High-A and Double-A ball. Batting .307 with an .896 OPS as he socked a career best 20 homers with 81 RBIs and 71 runs scored.
2013: Baseball America (8th overall), Baseball Prospectus (12th) and MLB.com (20th) all ranked him even higher. Spent 116 games at Double and Triple-A. He hit .297 with a .865 OPS as he hit 15 long balls with 67 RBIs and 72 runs scored.
2014: Baseball America (2nd overall), Baseball Prospectus (2nd) and MLB.com (2nd) all ranked him about as highly as you can.
TOTALS: .296/.373/.489 with 54 homers, 235 RBIs, 220 runs and 17 steals over 378 games.
2013: Appeared in 18 games with the Red Sox. Xander hit .250 with a homer, five RBIs and seven runs scored.
2014: Started out on fire. Finished as a 2,000 year old fire. That's cold. Overall Bogaerts hit .240 with a .297 OBP and .362 SLG. He hit 12 homers, drove in 46 and scored 60 times over 144 games.
Before we even get to the actual skills of the 22 year old shortstop, let's break down Bogaert's 2014 effort.
He had an OPS of .859 as late as June 3rd. He finished the year at .660.
From June 8th through August 30th his slash line was as pathetic as you will ever see for an every day player. I sincerely challenge you to find a worse effort than his .143/.188/.207 line over 245 plate appearances. It was a simply ghastly three month stretch.
In September he rebounded which is leading to a lot of excitement in some corners for his 2015 outlook as he hit . 313 with a .806 OPS with four homers over the final month of game action. Despite hitting .313 in September do you know what his OBP was for the month? Try .317. Sliders away were his Kryptonite. A pitcher threw it, he swing at it seemingly having lost all control of the strike zone. So even amidst the success there were still flashing yellow lights warning to be careful.
Through 582 big league at-bats Xander has hit .250.
He hasn't walked much with a total of 44 free passes and that has led to a mere .299 OBP. Terrible.
Xander has struck out 151 times in those at-bats. He also has a 9.8 swinging strike percentage that supports that overall strikeout mark. Awful.
Xander owns a .298 BABIP. League average stuff.
Xander has a 21.6 percent line drive rate which is above average but that's really due to his insane 34.4 percent mark over 50 plate appearances in 2013. Let's just call his effort to this point solid in this category.
Xander has a 0.98 GB/FB ratio. For a player with his overall skill set this is terrible. He's not going to have long term success if he's hitting 40 percent of all his batted balls into the air (the league average for fly ball rates is about 34-35 percent). He needs to hit more balls on the ground.
As for the power, his HR/F ratio is 7.5 percent. That's about what should have been expected, but it's also below the league average mark of about 9-10 percent.
Let's look at some splits data.
Scrapping the bottom of the barrel for league average at home. Bogaerts has been dreadful on the road.
vs. Left: .281/.347/.439
vs. Right: .224/.279/.331
Bogaerts has acquitted himself nicely against lefties with a very solid slash line. Alas, more pitchers are righty than left, and when a right-hander has been on the hill it's been the doldrums of junktastic efforts from Xander.
Help me out here. Where are you seeing reason for optimism?
Talent is one thing. Pedigree is a second thing. Bogaerts has both of those things in spades, but show me the work on the field... where is it? I'll answer my own questions: there's little to see here.
Xander hit 12 homers last season. A 10-15 campaign in 2015 sounds about right but I can't rule out a single digit effort either.
Xander stole two bases in three attempts last season. Maybe he steals five this year.
Xander hit .240 last season. Maybe he hits .250-.260 in 2015, but there's nothing to suggest in his major league line that he's suddenly going to hit .275.
Xander doesn't walk much, which when coupled with what figures to be a lowish batting average... we're just not going to see an OBP any better than the league average. That said, improving substantially on the 60 runs he scored last season isn't likely to happen especially when you consider that he spent 49 games hitting second and 87 hitting sixth or lower last year. Can you envision him hitting second this season? I cannot. What about something like this for the Red Sox batting order this season: Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Napoli, Rusney Castillo, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez. Maybe Xander flips with Castillo, but there's just no way that I can see Bogaerts hitting higher than seventh. That ain't going to help him to increase his runs scored mark.
Xander drove in 46 runs last season. Could improve that, the Sox boast a solid lineup, but it's not like he's going to be challenging for the positional lead in RBIs any time soon.
PLAYING TIME CONSIDERATIONS
Bogaerts will be playing shortstop for the Red Sox this season as the club added Pablo Sandoval to play third base over the offseason (Pablo showed up to camp in typical Pablo shape). He worked on his quickness this offseason at the EXOS Performance Institute in Phoenix to help improve on what was a sub par defensive effort in 2014. The good news for Xander is that he played 44 games at third base last year and 99 at shortstop so he qualifies at both spots in nearly every fantasy league in 2015. That added flexibility never hurts a player's outlook.
People are getting a little ahead of themselves with Xander. Honestly, as I was writing this profile I was thinking of graphs/tables/charts I could use to illustrate my points. However, the deeper I got into writing the piece, the more obvious it became that the over-the-top stuff isn't needed. The fact is that Xander has shown nothing at the big league level to suggest a breakout is coming in 2015. In fact, the totality of the work he posted last season suggests he may not even be ready to be a daily play in mixed leagues in 2015. Bogaerts is an intriguing talent with oodles of potential, but don't expect those skills to consolidate into an upper echelon fantasy effort in the coming campaign.
10 team lg: Not remotely interested in Bogaerts as a starter in this format. Even as a middle infield option I won't be targeting him.
12 team lg: Not starter worthy at short, and similar to my 10-team comment, I'm simply not targeting Xander even as a middle infield play.
15 team lg: Could be starting at shortstop, but see my two previous comments. Certainly debatable as to whether or not he should be a middle infield option in this format. Finally I can give a clear cut affirmative and say, yes, he can be started as a middle infield option in this league. Still not reaching for him though.
AL-only: Sure, but I'm not busting my budget to add him. As of this writing Xander is barely startable in a 10-team league at shortstop in this format.