Everyone seems pretty certain that Xander Bogaerts is a special player. He’ll be a star in the heart of the Red Sox line-up for years to com.
What has recently been a little less certain, is his position. Can he be the Red Sox shortstop? Is he too big? Is he too clunky? What will happen?
Some of this is natural comparison by all of us. The last two regular shortstops for the Sox were Jose Iglesias and Stephen Drew. Iglesias may be the flashiest, fun to watch shortstop the Sox have had. While Drew wasn’t flashy, he was a very good defender who earned his spot in the postseason line-up almost solely because of his glove.
So, it’s natural that we would look at Bogaerts as something less than good. I’d wager that every error he has made this year would have been an easy play by either of the two that came before him. That gets frustrating, especially when it’s a critical error at a critical time. But, that’s not fair.
Nor is it necessary.
Sure, Bogaerts is having some growing pains. He has to learn how to play defense in the major leagues. He has to adjust to faster runners. Instead of remembering which guy on the other team was speedy, most of the other team is speedy. The whole game is just a little faster. So, he needs to figure out how to speed things up, instead of being surprised that a guy is almost to first. That’ll take just a little time.
I’m not suggesting he’ll turn into Ozzie Smith. His minor league career doesn’t imply anything like that. But, he’ll be solid. Heck, he already is solid. He’ll make the plays he’s supposed to make. If he’s going to hit the way everyone thinks he will, that’s all you need from him on the field.
In the meantime? It stinks when his errors are hurtful. Especially since those are the ones everyone seems to remember. With any luck, the rest of his learning curve consists of bases empty errors with two outs. Those certainly hurt a lot less than with two on in the ninth. But, I suspect over the season his bat will win the Red Sox many more games than his glove costs them.
Many many more.