By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Fresh off getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays in the midst of a critical stretch of the season, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts was not in the most celebratory of moods on Thursday night at Fenway Park.
“I think it might be probably the most disappointing losses of the season so far,” Bogaerts said at his locker. “It feels like getting one win is really hard to come by right now. We’ve got to find a way to forget these last few games, try to remember the good times and try to go on a run again.”
While the Red Sox’ ability to actually go on a run may be in question, there’s no doubt that if the Red Sox are to make something of this season, it will be largely due to the impact of Bogaerts.
With a pair of homers on Thursday night — a two-run shot in the first and a solo job in the fifth — Bogaerts upped his season total to 25 on the year, a new career high. It was part of a 4-for-4 night, with Bogaerts singling in the third and hitting a ground-rule double in the seventh.
That performance brought Bogaerts’ batting average to .317 and his OPS to .982. While there’s still 52 games left in the season, it’s worth noting that Bogaerts’ current OPS is almost 100 points better than his previous best for any season — .883, which he posted in 2018.
Bogaerts’ previous single-season career high for homers was 23, set last year.
Among American League shortstops, the 26-year-old Bogaerts ranks first in batting average, first in OPS, first in home runs and first in RBIs, and he leads in those categories by a wide margin. His .320 batting average is 25 points better than Francisco Lindor’s .305, his .986 OPS is 108 points better than Lindor’s .878, his 25 home runs are seven more than Lindor’s 18, and his 84 RBIs are 32 more than Marcus Semien, Jorge Polanco and Adalberto Mondesi, all of whom are tied for second with 52.
The outlook for the Red Sox’ current season may not be entirely bright, but Bogaerts’ ascent to becoming arguably the best shortstop in the American League at least bodes well for the future. Bogaerts’ fresh new contract that will keep him in Boston through at least 2025, along with the rise of Rafael Devers (who is under team control for four more seasons) at the very least helps provide some positivity for the Red Sox moving forward. Even if this year may not be made of whatever magic inspired last year’s World Series run, at least the Red Sox appear on their way to boasting the best left side of the infield in baseball.