Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts heard the comments about his subpar defense over the first half of last season, but he isn’t hearing them any longer.
Bogaerts prioritized improving his defense this season, working vigorously before games and it has paid off for the four-time All-Star. The 30-year-old is impressing in the middle of the diamond, tied with Minnesota Twins infielder Carlos Correa for the best fielding percentage among American League shortstops while only committing 10 errors in 145 games.
“I take a lot (of pride), man. I wanted to have a positive defensive season,” Bogaerts told NESN’s Tom Caron on the “TC & Company” podcast. “I would trade away a Silver Slugger for that. That’s how much I take pride in it. Sometimes defense don’t like me. I always say that. But I really like it. I like it, it doesn’t like me, so it’s a tough relationship we have. This year I’m thankful. The coaches they’ve put in a lot of work last year, especially the second half when we started doing some different drills before games that has helped me a lot.
“I’ve said it since last year, coming into this year, I was very optimistic and excited about the way I finished the second half last year defensively. I felt deep down that I was going to have a really good season defensively just based on how the second half finished last year.”
Boagerts’ defense, especially his range, will be tested next year with Major League Baseball banning the infield shift. But Bogaerts, whether in a Red Sox uniform or not, believes he can showcase his athleticism and still provide solid defensive play, even if it requires some changes this offseason.
“I think it will be a good thing,” Bogaerts told Caron of there being no shifts starting next season. “I don’t mind it. I like being in the shift. Whatever they ask me to do. If that requires me to lose some weight, I’ll definitely do that. Whatever going into the offseason that I need to do to maximize my range to keep up the way I’ve been playing.”