Welcome to the next installment of Tampa Bay Rays vs. the AL East. Today we focus on shortstop.
The Tampa Bay Rays have one of the league’s best defensive shortstops who also packs some pop with the bat. In this series, we will preview how the rest of the American League East stacks up to the Rays at the most skilled defensive position on the infield. On Deck: Boston Red Sox
AL East 2B Team Previews:
AL East 3B Team Previews
AL East SS Team Previews
Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox Fangraphs 2020 Projected SS WAR: 4.6
No surprise that the Red Sox lead the way in terms of Fangraphs projections from the shortstop position in the AL East. They have one of the brightest young stars in the game, Xander Bogaerts. After last year’s performance, a 4.6 might be a modest prediction for the 27-year-old.
In 2019, Bogaerts hit .309 with 33 homers, 110 runs scored, 52 doubles, and 117 RBI. He posted career highs in OBP and SLG while finishing with a 140 OPS+ and appearing in his second All-Star game.
The shortstop is coming off of two-consecutive 100-RBI seasons and has hit for 20 or more homers in three of the past four years.
The bat carries a lot of weight for Xander, and it needs to as he has posted -58 career defensive runs saved, totaling -14 just last season. Bogaerts may not be the flashiest shortstop or have the range to make the unthinkable plays of an Andrelton Simmons, but he generally makes the plays he needs to as evidenced by a solid .978 career fielding percentage. He finished the 2019 with a .975 fielding percentage.
Most teams are willing to sacrifice a little on the defensive side when they bring the type of offensive production that Xander Bogaerts brings to the plate.