BOSTON — Sure, Xander Bogaerts wants to be an All-Star. Who doesn’t?
But with the Red Sox sitting in last place in the American League East with seven games remaining in the first half, the 22-year-old shortstop is focused more on entering the break on a high note than on whether he’ll punch his ticket to the Midsummer Classic when the rosters are announced Monday night.
“You hear a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but I’m just really focused right now on helping the team,” Bogaerts said after Saturday’s 6-1 win over the Houston Astros at Fenway Park. “I’m just trying to do my job right here and just try to win as many games as possible going into the All-Star break. Finishing on a strong note as a team, and hopefully in the second half we do way much better.”
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz strengthened his own All-Star case Saturday with a complete-game, one-run gem against the Astros. Bogaerts reached base three times out of the No. 3 spot in Boston’s order.
Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a single, a double and a walk. He opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first inning and then padded the Red Sox’s lead with an RBI double in the fifth inning. Bogaerts is hitting an impressive .385 (25-for-65) with runners in scoring position this season. He’s hitting .302 overall.
“I would hope that he gets some recognition for the first half that he’s had,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Bogaerts’ All-Star candidacy. “He’s been a very consistent performer for us and has grown a lot from a year ago, both defensively and offensively. Whether or not that reflects or is acknowledged through an All-Star appearance, time will tell that one.”
Bogaerts has reached base in each of his last 11 games, during which he’s hitting .383 (18-for-47). He’s hitting .351 (46-for-131) with 21 RBIs in 32 games dating back to May 31. While Bogaerts still hasn’t developed into the power hitter many expected — he has just three home runs this season — he has evolved into a very good contact hitter who’s only getting better as his second season progresses.
“Absolutely I think Xander’s going to make the All-Star team,” said teammate Mookie Betts, who went 2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBIs and a run scored. “He’s been playing great from the beginning of the season.
“I wasn’t there to see him develop. All I know is this Xander. This is all I’ve seen. For him to continue to do this for so long, I don’t know why he wouldn’t be in the All-Star Game.”
Bogaerts likely will need to be selected by his peers or AL manager Ned Yost, as he ranked fourth among AL shortstops in the most recent fan voting update behind the Kansas City Royals’ Alcides Escobar, the Detroit Tigers’ Jose Iglesias and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Reyes despite his impressive numbers. But if Bogaerts does earn his first career All-Star selection, you can bet he’ll appreciate the honor, even if it’s not a top priority.
“It would be big, to be honest,” Bogaerts said. “It’s something definitely everyone would want to do at some point in their career. But I’m just trying to do my job out there, trying to be a good teammate, trying to help the team win as much as possible going into the All-Star break.”
Bogaerts should think about packing his bags for Cincinnati just in case.
Thumbnail photo via Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images