Aside from the cold winters, the dirty water and the hustle and bustle of city living, Boston is pretty much a spitting image of Aruba.
You’re not seeing it? Well, maybe you’re not looking hard enough. Or maybe it’s because we’re just scratching the surface of Xander Bogaerts’ potential. Either way, Bogaerts is going to create a direct link between Boston and Aruba for years to come, as it’s clear that the 21-year-old is going to be a star of the Red Sox — if he isn’t already.
“He’s the future of this organization,” David Ortiz said of Bogaerts after Game 5 of the World Series on Monday. “It’s good that he’s playing on this type of stage. You learn from this, you learn. Having that talent at that young age is something that later on in your career you appreciate.”
The hype surrounding Bogaerts really started to build during spring training, and eight months later, we’re seeing that the Aruba native is the real deal. Bogaerts made an impact during the ALDS despite playing sparingly, and his success has continued since he became a permanent fixture in the Red Sox’ starting lineup before Game 5 of the ALCS.
Bogaerts has really elevated his game in the World Series. Since going 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in Games 1 and 2 of the Fall Classic, Bogaerts is 5-for-11 over the last three contests. That includes a 2-for-4 effort in Game 5, in which he also scored the eventual winning run.
Daniel Nava led off the seventh inning of Game 5 with a strikeout, but Bogaerts quickly got things going in the right direction for the Red Sox’ offense with a single into center field off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright. Bogaerts advanced to second base when the struggling Stephen Drew worked a walk and scored when David Ross ripped a go-ahead RBI double down the left field line.
Bogaerts, who had just 50 plate appearances during the regular season after getting called up in August, is now hitting .348 (8-for-23) with a .467 on-base percentage in the postseason. All the while, he has shown tremendous plate discipline and poise well beyond his years.
“Xander Bogaerts is maybe one of the best young players I’ve ever seen,” Ross said after Game 5. “The professional at-bats he’s throwing on on this kind of stage just boggles my mind. And what I would be doing as a 21-year-old in the World Series, I’d just be in awe. And that guy’s having great at-bats, some of the best.”
John Farrell, among others, has pointed out multiple times that nothing seems to bother Bogaerts. He has the same laid-back demeanor every time he arrives at the ballpark, and it carries over into his game. Not only does it seem like nothing rattles Bogaerts, but there’s also a sense of effortlessness in his offensive success — even if it isn’t that easy.
“Am I nervous? Definitely. I’m human. I’m definitely nervous before the game,” Bogaerts said prior to Game 5. “But during the game, I try to stay as calm as possible and just enjoy the moment. You don’t get here too often, so try to enjoy it and do the best you can. Try to go out there and win games and play good and try to win games.”
Bogaerts is already a superstar in his native Aruba. He’s just the fifth player from the island to make it to the majors, and the infielder’s World Series contributions are apparently causing quite the stir among the locals.
“It’s hectic down there. It’s something else,” Bogaerts said. “So many people wearing my jerseys, I can’t even imagine. Everybody, they are watching the games and expecting you to do good. The first two games I got two strikeouts each game. Everyone was like, ‘Bogaerts, what’s going on?’ I was like, ‘Don’t panic. Relax.’ It’s baseball. You have ups and downs. You’ve just got to relax and enjoy the game.”
Bogaerts, who undoubtedly will enter next season with sky-high expectations, plans to go to the beach when he finally returns to Aruba following the Red Sox’ World Series run. First, he might need to clear his schedule for a Duck Boat ride through the streets of Boston.