I tried to resist. I was going to write about Kyle Seager. I was going to write about the Cubs’ third base logjam. I was going to write about what we can learn from Chris Tillman.
But I am weak-willed, and so I must indulge.
Today (as I write this … yesterday as you read it) is Xander Bogaerts day. And it is a good day indeed.
Those of you who follow me here or around the web (read: those of you who’ve ever read, like, one of my columns) know that I’ve been high on Bogaerts for quite a while. During the 2011 season, when Fangraphs’ Mike Newman began urging everyone to pay attention to the studly Aruban, I was quick to listen. When I finally put my own eyes on Bogaerts in Portland last season, I came away with a lasting impression: he is, quite simply, the best prospect I’ve ever seen in my limited time analyzing the minor leagues.
Now, at the age of 20, Bogaerts is in the big leagues, and he could be there to stay.
A quick recap of what Bogaerts has done so far this year: in 515 PA equally divided between Double-A and Triple-A, he’s posted a .297/.388/.477 line with 95 strikeouts and 63 walks. He’s been the youngest or among the youngest players for much of the past two seasons, and enters MLB as its third-youngest player, behind Bryce Harper and Jurickson Profar.
While he won’t be confused with Jose Iglesias or Andrelton Simmons at short, Bogaerts has largely put to rest the notion that he’ll need to move to third base to start his career. That doesn’t mean he’ll never be used there, given the presence of Stephen Drew, but it means that come 2014, Bogaerts is very likely to be the Red Sox’ everyday shortstop.
But as hard as it is not to get ahead of ourselves with Bogaerts, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Instead, let’s examine what Xander (no other nickname needed) is likely to contribute to Fantasy leagues this season.
The Red Sox have not yet played against the Giants as of this writing, but we know that Bogaerts is not in the starting lineup. This is because Tim Lincecum is starting, and Tim Lincecum throws with his right hand. I bring this up because I think for the first little while, we’ll see Bogaerts mostly against lefties, at the expense of one Drew.
[Editors note: Bogaerts did not make an appearance last night. As a result, the Sox only won by seven runs. Tonight, Bogaerts is indeed supposed to be in the starting lineup. So I guess today really is Xander Bogaerts day? This pleases me.]
If Will Middlebrooks cools down, we’ll likely see Bogaerts take some of his playing time against righties as well, and indeed I do think this will happen. I’m looking for Drew, Middlebrooks and Bogaerts all getting nearly even playing time for the remaining 30-odd games. That’d give Bogaerts somewhere in the vicinity of 80-110 plate appearances to make an impact on your league, and while his ability shouldn’t be overstated, he certainly has the potential to perform as a Top 10 Fantasy shortstop during that time. For a wild guess as to what Xander will produce this season, let’s go with .270 with 5 homers and 16 RBI, plus 18 runs scored.
Bogaerts has so much hype surrounding him that if you haven’t already picked him up in most standard leagues, he’s probably already gone. But if for some ungodly reason Bogaerts is still available, make room for him now. Even if you’re stacked at MI and third base, Bogaerts will be a good sell-high candidate (in redraft leagues only!) after he has a few big games, and the bat is good enough to potentially help you in a utility slot as well.
We will all remember August 19 as a day a baseball hero was born. The Great Aruban Hope will be thrilling Red Sox fans and Fantasy owners alike for the foreseeable future, and I, for one, intend to full enjoy the ride.