Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Xander Bogaerts, 2015 American League All Star

The fans of Red Sox Nation continue to watch Xander Bogaerts mature as a major league shortstop.  You can see his confidence grow at the plate and in the field.   As the season approaches mid June the All Star Game is only about a month away, July 14 in Cincinnati.  Bogaerts will need to seal the deal over the next few weeks, but here is the case to name Xander to the AL All Star squad.

First let us say Bogaerts will not be voted on as the starting shortstop.  In a topic that deserves a post all of its own, the fans of the upstart defending AL champs, Kansas City Royals are stuffing the digital ballot box and currently seven Royals lead the voting at their position.  It is ironic the game is in Cincy, because this voting is eerily reminiscent of 1957 when the fans of the Reds voted in seven of their mostly undeservingly players (and Cards' Stan Musial).  Then commissioner Ford Frick, partially revoked the vote by removing two Reds outfielders and replaced them with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.  The vote was taken away from the fans from 1958 through 1969.

The most recent voting at shortstop has this top five and their rounded vote total:

1. Alcides Escobar, KC          3.92M
2. Jose Iglesias, Detroit           1.81M
3. Marcus Semien, Oakland    910K
4. Jed Lowrie, Houston           713K
5. Jose Reyes, Toronto            464K

Let's more closely examine Bogaerts and his competition for the two or three spots available for shortstops on the AL squad.

First we will get a list of all AL shortstops who have had a minimum of 150 at bats through June 8.  There are only twelve, but two of the twelve were optioned to the minors last Sunday: Danny Santana of the Twins and Jose Ramirez of Cleveland.  That leaves only ten AL shortstops who would be reasonable candidates ( listed in order of their batting averages):

Jose Iglesias, DET                .331
Xander Bogaerts, BOS         .296
Marcus Semien, OAK          .275
Erick Aybar, LAA               .265
Alcides Escobar, KC            .263
Didi Gregorius, NY              .238
Elvis Andrus, TEX               .237
Alexi Ramirez, CHI              .233
Brad Miller, SEA                  .228
Asdrubal Cabrera, TB           .203

These are the ten we will examine.  You may notice this list eliminates two of the top five vote getters, Jed Lowrie and Jose Reyes.  As usual with both of these gentlemen, they have spent much of the season on the DL.  The fact they have received so many votes (especially Lowrie) is really a bigger indictment of the flawed voting system than the KC voting.  Another name shortstop who has missed most of the season and is not on our list is JJ Hardy of the Orioles.

Besides introducing the field, this above list also shows a grand total of five AL shortstops hitting over .260, only two Iglesias and Bogaerts over .290.

Here is a check of several other offensive categories:

Home Runs
1. Semien    6
2. Miller      5
3. Five others at 2 ( inc. Bogaerts)



RBI
1. Ramirez       22
2. Bogaerts      21
3. Andrus        20
4. Escobar       18
5. Aybar          17

Runs
1. Semien        27
2. Escobar       25
3. Aybar          24
    Andrus        24
5. Bogaerts      23

Hits
1. Semien         61
2. Aybar           56
    Bogaerts       56
4. Iglesias         51
5. Andrus         50

OBP
1. Iglesias         .382
2. Bogaerts       .340
3. Semien         .321
4. Miller           .311
5. Aybar           .310

And for you new era stat fans

WAR
1. Iglesias         1.8
2. Bogaerts       1.5
3. Semien         0.9
4. Aybar           0.7
    Escobar        0.7

Fielding Pct.
1. Cabrera      .989
2. Iglesias       .984
3. Bogaerts     .983
4. Ramirez      .981
5. Aybar          .976

Now fielding percentage is not always the best indicator for defense, but our candidate, Xander Bogaerts, is generally rated about third or fourth in the AL in various defensive metrics. His defense will not keep him out of the consideration.

Two of the original ten names do not show up on any of these top fives for offense: Didi Gregorius and Asdrubal Cabrera ( to the surprise of no one) and we can eliminate them.  Brad Miller shows up as runner up in HR's and fourth in OBP but not very high otherwise.  We will set him aside.

That leaves seven candidates, one of whom Aclides Escobar will be the starter.  Let's look at the other six, ranked from six to one.

6. Elvis Andrus.  He made the top five in RBI, runs, and hits but is seventh in OBP, and has a -0.2 WAR.  He has made a dozen errors, and despite somewhat of a name, Andrus at this point is not deserving.

5. Alexi Ramirez.  Ramrez leads the pack in RBI, but does not show up on any other offensive top five.  His fourth place in Fielding Pct. helps and he has a similar name recognition to Andrus, but not  this year.

4. Marcus Semien.  Since he is the pacesetter for home runs, runs, hits, and is third in BA, OBP, and WAR, he is a fairly strong candidate except for one thing: he is a terrible defensive shortstop.  He has committed nineteen errors so far this year.

3. Erick Aybar.   Other than home runs, Aybar shows up on every list including for defense.  He is a strong candidate for one of the spots.

2. Jose Iglesias    Jose is stunning the baseball world with his offensive display, although with only 160 at bats, fewer than anyone on this list. Jose leads in BA and OBP by a wide margin. He is even second in slugging average to Semien.  When you factor in the wizardry in the field and his second place in current voting, Iggy is probably the leading candidate to backup up Escobar.

1. Xander Bogaerts.  Hey, it is his post he can be listed at number one.  Let's recap Xander's placement in the categories:

BA:        .296  #2
HR              2  #3 tie
OBP        .340  #2
RBI            21  #2
Runs           23 #5
Hits             56 #2 tie
WAR          1.5 #2

Bogaerts is tied for the most triples with three and is in a pack of guys with eight or nine doubles, who trail Ramirez with twelve.

One last thing regarding these six, it is not likely any of the six have to be named to give their respective teams a All Star representative. As a matter of fact, the most likely player to fall into that category may be Bogaerts, if the Red Sox do not right the ship.  But Dustin Pedroia is one other Sox player who should be in contention for the team.

 The others and one of their teammates who should be All Stars:

Andrus- Prince Fielder
Ramirez- Chris Sale
Semien- Sonny Gray (Semien may be the next most likely to be his team's lone rep)
Aybar-  Mr. Mike Trout
Iglesias- Miguel Cabrera

So at this point in time Bogaerts is definitely in All Star contention.  He needs to continue his upward progression in his game and his numbers.  Some upturn in his power numbers would especially help.

One last little factor that at least will not hurt Xander.  The All Star manager, who at least in name, chooses the subs is KC manager Ned Yost.   Yost's shortstop will be the starter so Bogaerts ( or any other candidate) will not get jobbed by the All Star manager taking his guy for the bench.

Let's hope Xander puts up deserving numbers (that will also help the Sox), and he earns his shot at the All Star Game.

1 comment:

  1. Xander is quickly becoming the lone reason to watch the Red Sox in 2015. Although watching Mookie and Blake develop is worth watching too, but Xander seems to be the one who is really blossoming. And on the pitching side of things today's starter Eduardo Rodriquez is obviously worth the price of admission. Today will be his biggest test to date as the Blue Jays have scored the most runs in the AL this season and likely have the best offense. And as if that wasn't enough the Blue Jays really eat up left handed pitching. Should be an interesting test for Ed Rod today.

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