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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Xander Bogaerts’ growing pains at shortstop proving costly

I guess it could be worse. He could have gangrene on his face.

Much was made after the Red Sox‘ 8-1 loss to the Astros Sunday over a single ruling at second base that proved to be a game-changer.

With two on and one out in the top of the second inning, Marwin Gonzalez hit a ground ball that was fielded by Xander Bogaerts at short for what appeared to be a routine double play.

Bogaerts ran to second [and] threw to first… Astros manager Bo Porter challenged that the ball left Bogaerts’ hand before firing to first, which the replay proved to be true, giving Houston life in the second. Two batters later Jose Altuve lifted his first-career grand slam to give the Astros a commanding 6-0 lead…

On Friday, Bogaerts went to second base too late on a grounder his way instead of making an easy throw to first. His failure to record an out allowed the game-tying run to score in an eventual Red Sox loss….

When asked to describe what the last three days have been like for him, Bogaerts said, “You guys have no clue. Sometimes I hide it on the outside, but inside it’s just tough.”...

While his defense was expected to be a work in progress this year, his offensive numbers (.228/.296/.342) have been well below expectations.

Offensive production aside, Bogaerts’ biggest challenge has been learning to become a major league shortstop. However, his coaches are confident in him and said they can see him progressing as an infielder.

The District Attorney Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:02 PM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: red sox, xander bogaerts

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   1. JJ1986 Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:18 PM (#4773219)
the ball left Bogaerts’ hand before firing to first,


What?
   2. Dale Sams Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:26 PM (#4773222)
That's not even counting the game where Bogaerts went to second instead of firing home in that 19 inning game allowing the tying run to score in extra innings.

Measured by OPS, Bogaerts has been the second worst SS in the league. Bradley has been the worst CF. By OPS.
   3. JE (Jason) Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:26 PM (#4773223)
What?

He must have had a pistol in his other hand.
   4. #6bid is partially elite Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:27 PM (#4773224)
the ball left Bogaerts’ hand before firing to first,


What?


Telekinesis, in addition to being a useful skill for an infielder, does not appear to be strictly against the rules of baseball.
   5. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:28 PM (#4773225)
Bogaerts has been the biggest disappointment of a hugely disappointing season for the Red Sox.
   6. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:32 PM (#4773231)
Bogaerts has been the biggest disappointment of a hugely disappointing season for the Red Sox.


Tell me about it , I just could not believe his stuff up today.



That's not even counting the game where Bogaerts went to second instead of firing home in that 19 inning game allowing the tying run to score in extra innings.


He was at double play depth and Farrell said after the game they were conceding the run, god knows why though...
   7. Dale Sams Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:32 PM (#4773232)
He was at double play depth and Farrell said after the game they were conceding the run, god knows why though...


Well it seems like no one told Pedroia.
   8. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:46 PM (#4773235)
Worth noting that Bogaerts was one of the best players on the team until Cherington effed with him by getting Drew for no good reason and moving him off the position.
   9. Dale Sams Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:53 PM (#4773241)
Not really worth noting unless this place also believes in magic rocks that keep away bears.

Also, Bogaerts had a great 5 games after he was moved to third.
   10. Randomly Fluctuating Defensive Metric Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:01 AM (#4773262)
256 Triple A plate appearances. Maybe just too much, too soon?
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:20 AM (#4773267)
The Bogaerts-Profar era has not gotten off to a flying start.

On the prospect bright side, Javier Baez drew the first two walks of his ML career today.
   12. NattyBoh Posted: August 18, 2014 at 06:14 AM (#4773285)
Measured by OPS, Bogaerts has been the second worst SS in the league


Almost Jeterian.
   13. villageidiom Posted: August 18, 2014 at 08:03 AM (#4773295)
Isn't the neighborhood play non-reviewable? I mean, after review they got the play correct, and at the game it was pretty obvious (to me) that he threw before he stepped on the bag. But if Farrell protests on the basis that it was a non-reviewable call, we might be in the bizarro world of the league choosing either to adhere to the rule or to get the call correct.

That aside, Cherington has said previously that they like their hitting prospects to get at least 650 PAs in AAA before being promoted for good. Both Bogaerts and Bradley are well short of that. In light of that, I am thinking the whole drama with Drew could have been the opposite of what it appeared to be. It appeared that Boston decided to move on from Drew, them panicked when Bogaerts struggled and signed Drew after the draft. What might have actually happened was they used the possibility of starting Bogaerts as a negotiating tactic with Drew, and Boras called their bluff. As long as Drew remained unsigned, he was their Plan A.
   14. Lyford Posted: August 18, 2014 at 08:34 AM (#4773301)
Worth noting that Bogaerts was one of the best players on the team until Cherington effed with him by getting Drew for no good reason and moving him off the position.


His first week as a third baseman was his best week of the year. And the team was clearly better - or at least could clearly expect to be better - with Drew at SS and Bogaerts at 3rd than with Bogaerts at SS and Middlebrooks at 3rd. So there was good reason for signing Drew. The fact that they lost 10 straight after signing him, and then rushed Drew to the Majors without adequate prep work made it pointless in retrospect, but at the time, there was good reason to believe that the signing would improve the team.
   15. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 18, 2014 at 09:27 AM (#4773320)
Isn't the neighborhood play non-reviewable? I mean, after review they got the play correct, and at the game it was pretty obvious (to me) that he threw before he stepped on the bag. But if Farrell protests on the basis that it was a non-reviewable call, we might be in the bizarro world of the league choosing either to adhere to the rule or to get the call correct.


According to Farrell the ruling was that because there was no throw to Bogaerts it is a reviewable call. If the play was a situation where Pedroia flipped to Bogaerts then it's not reviewable, but because Bogaerts took the ball to the bag himself it is reviewable. It's a little stupid if you ask me but that seems to be the ruling.
   16. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 09:31 AM (#4773325)
The complete regression of Bogaerts has been painful to watch, enough to reevaluate his future value to the Red Sox. I think the best you can project him to be right now is a league-average SS.
   17. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 09:37 AM (#4773330)
If the Sox are serious about contending next year, they might be well served by signing Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie to something like a Napoli/Victorino deal and let Bogaerts spend the year in Pawtucket.
   18. BDC Posted: August 18, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4773343)
The Bogaerts-Profar era has not gotten off to a flying start

Hey, Profar hasn't made an error all year.
   19. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4773348)
BDC, were you in Texas back when Benji Gil was supposed to be the Rangers' Next Big Thing?
   20. DKDC Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:09 AM (#4773356)
A decade ago, the Red Sox farm system produced Hanley, Youkilis, Lester, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Papelbon, Sanchez, Masterson, Lowrie, etc. in a few short years - an almost unbelievable string of good prospect fortune.

It’s far too early to call Boegarts a bust, but the Red Sox were overdue for a prospect dry spell, and they are right in the thick of one right now.
   21. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:12 AM (#4773361)
The complete regression of Bogaerts has been painful to watch, enough to reevaluate his future value to the Red Sox. I think the best you can project him to be right now is a league-average SS.

This reaction seems way over the top. I'm pretty sure top prospects have struggled in their first full season before. Bogaerts is 21 frickin' years old.

It’s far too early to call Boegarts a bust, but the Red Sox were overdue for a prospect dry spell, and they are right in the thick of one right now.

They still have one of the top farm systems in the game even with Bogaerts no longer on prospect lists.
   22. BDC Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4773362)
were you in Texas back when Benji Gil was supposed to be the Rangers' Next Big Thing?

I was, gef. He was a perplexing player, never really seemed to be able to play much at all at any level. He was eventually an OK utility man (for the Angels), and probably should never have had higher expectations.

Gil is now a Rangers' Spanish-language broadcaster.
   23. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:19 AM (#4773367)
I remember seeing Gil when his team played the Travelers in Little Rock. Couldn't tell much from a couple of games, of course, but the hype was pretty puzzling.
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4773370)
It appeared that Boston decided to move on from Drew, them panicked when Bogaerts struggled and signed Drew after the draft. What might have actually happened was they used the possibility of starting Bogaerts as a negotiating tactic with Drew, and Boras called their bluff. As long as Drew remained unsigned, he was their Plan A.


Interesting theory, but I don't really buy it. They panicked because of their bad W-L record at the time (and the craptitude/injury of Middlebrooks).

Bogaerts was starting world series games last fall; they didn't view him as a minor-leaguer. Once Drew rejected the QO, I don't think he was there Plan A at all, because the most likely outcome was him getting a multi-year deal which they wouldn't offer.
   25. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4773376)
The mistake the Sox made was not having a better fall back than Herrera for Middlebrooks' inevitable suckitude/injury. I don't think Drew's return/Bogaerts struggles are in any way related to each other but the club was hurt by not having Drew or someone similar.

The problem for Bogaerts is a fairly basic one for a kid who has never struggled. He has never learned to adjust and he isn't handling it well. I still think he'll be a star but it's been incredibly discouraging to watch him.
   26. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:41 AM (#4773390)
There is struggling, then there is complete collapse of one's game. Say what you will about Bradley, but at least he's added value in the field.

Before the season, Bogaerts didn't have a single tool that projected much beyond a 50 grade (EDIT: for this season). A lot of Bogaerts' hitting success in the minors was driven by high BABIP, which does not translate to the majors. He has a track record of good, but not elite, power and plate discipline. He is average to below-average as a baserunner and defender.

This may be post-hoc rationalization—I certainly didn't predict a season like this—but it doesn't seem unreasonable to have been quite skeptical of Bogaerts. There's a decent chance he ends up like Fernando Martinez or Andy Marte.
   27. Nasty Nate Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4773396)
The mistake the Sox made was not having a better fall back than Herrera for Middlebrooks' inevitable suckitude/injury.


They had Holt.
   28. DKDC Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4773398)
They still have one of the top farm systems in the game even with Bogaerts no longer on prospect lists.


Red Sox farm system rankings in 2010:

Baseball Prospectus (Kevin Goldstein): #5
ESPN (Keith Law): #2
Baseball America: #5
Diamond Futures: #3
   29. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4773405)
To be fair, they didn't know what they had in Holt. He's not the prototypical "toolsy" utility MI that can field, run, and bunt. He didn't project as an appreciably better hitter than Herrera.
   30. Nasty Nate Posted: August 18, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4773406)
To be fair, they didn't know what they had in Holt. He's not the prototypical "toolsy" utility MI that can field, run, and bunt. He didn't project as an appreciably better hitter than Herrera.

Well, if we are going by projections, they also had Garin Cecchini, who did project as an appreciably better hitter than Herrera.
   31. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4773407)
Not sure the point of mentioning Cecchini. They weren't going to jump a prospect two levels to get intermittent playing time as a utility man, regardless of projections.
   32. AROM Posted: August 18, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4773410)
Almost Jeterian.


By OPS+, Zandar is 13th among AL shortstops playing 80+ games, ahead of Brad Miller. Tigers would be at #15, but they have had 2 players try to play short and neither has 80 games.

Looking at the list, Jeter's season is almost identical across the board to Yunel Escobar. The shocking thing is that Jeter has the better defensive numbers, -19 DRS for Yunel and -11 for Jeter. Though Jeter has the worse TZ. Yunel slightly edges in RF9, 3.31 to 3.24.
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: August 18, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4773423)
I brought him up within the context of a fall back for Middlebrooks being bad, not as a UTIL guy.
   34. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4773431)
Sorry, I didn't catch that.
   35. John DiFool2 Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4773514)
I just hope Mookie Betts doesn't catch what these guys have gotten.

It may just be that times are tough for position players as a whole-the pitching in the bigs has never been better, and this may make it harder for a young player to develop at the plate.
   36. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4773535)
Before the season, Bogaerts didn't have a single tool that projected much beyond a 50 grade (EDIT: for this season). A lot of Bogaerts' hitting success in the minors was driven by high BABIP, which does not translate to the majors. He has a track record of good, but not elite, power and plate discipline. He is average to below-average as a baserunner and defender.


I'm not sure where you are getting this. Baseball America had Bogaerts as a 50 or better in all five areas.

You're right of course that he could be Andy Marte or someone like that, it's the nature of prospects. I think bailing on him after one bad year, at age 21 in the Majors, would be excessive.

   37. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4773622)
Xander started his age 21 year with 58 games of a .861 OPS, since then he has 65 games at a .416 OPS. Slumps for young players can't possibly last this long, and players never hide injuries to try to play through them, or have their play affected by outside/personal issues, so there is no other possible answer other than he's busted and its time to bail on him.

A couple years ago the As had a former top prospect, a young third baseman with a career .400 OPS over 51 games, and they sucked till they sent him down at end of May. Since then they've been the best team in the MLB, and who knows what ever happened to Josh Donaldson. I suggest the Sox waive/ship out Xander immediately and reap the rewards!
   38. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4773639)
Everybody needs to chill out about Bogaerts...he's 21 years old, and has shown absolutely nothing other than being a stud entering this year. In fact, part way through this year, it looked like he was about to be a stud in 2014. Through early June, he was hitting extremely well (over .300 with power and pretty good walk %). He'll be fine. Stick him at SS, and he'll be much better in 2015.
   39. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4773650)
I looked at Bogaerts' projections and corresponded his statistics with their places on the 20-80 scales in the link above. At present, I don't think you can say his best tools are very much above MLB average.

One bad year is also the most recent information and the longest observation on how Bogaerts will fare in the majors. I think, based on what we know, his, say, 60-70th percentile projection, is as an average MLB starter. The odds have shifted against him being the All-Star caliber player people expected.

Here is a list of 21-year-olds since 1947, ordered by wRC+.
   40. AROM Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4773664)
Here is a list of 21-year-olds since 1947, ordered by wRC+.


That list tells us he could be better than Brooks Robinson, or worse than Luis Rivas.
   41. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:48 PM (#4773669)
The Donaldson example is disingenuous. It's exceptional for a 26-year-old repeating AAA for the second time to develop into what he has.
   42. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4773688)
KT, that's an .816 OPS driven by a .389 BABIP and striking out in 23% of his PA.
   43. Norcan Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:04 PM (#4773696)
I hate how Xander uses his hands in his swing. He doesn't grip the bat with his top hand until the pitcher starts his motion. Then he gets into a timing pattern where he de-grips his top hand again and then does so a final time as he strides to the plate. I can't imagine how you can have good bat control with all that re-gripping. You're starting the swing late and then you're jumping at the ball as you get control of the bat. I've never seen anyone have inconsistent finishes like he does. He'll fluctuate between a two-handed finish and a one-handed one; that's uncommon. Some of the other top prospects who have failed to meet expectations like Heyward and Hosmer also have similar hand mechanisms. Xander has great natural bat speed and a pretty good sense of the strike zone. He should be doing so much better.
   44. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:10 PM (#4773708)
Assuming the same ISO OBP and SLG and normalizing to the same BABIP, Bogaerts' tale of two seasons is less stark:

S1: 58 G / 238 PA / .392 BABIP / .304 AVG / .395 OBP / .464 SLG
S2: 65 G / 230 PA / .191 BABIP / .154 AVG / .191 OBP / .224 SLG

Normalized to a .300 BABIP
S1: .235/.325/.394
S2: .234/.277/.310

Normalized to a .346 BABIP (Miguel Cabrera's career mark)
S1: .268/.353/.427
S2: .268/.308/.343

The first "half" of Bogaerts' season comes out to a 98 OPS+ at a .300 BABIP and a 117 OPS+ at a .346 BABIP. If there is a reasonable basis for discarding the last 65 games of information, then Bogaerts projects as a good player. Until I hear something about a wrist/hand/thumb injury, I'm not inclined to do so.

EDIT: However, I think that Bogaerts' ceiling should be lowered if we are projecting based on performance that would require something like a .340 BABIP. I'm not dismissing his potential, just encouraging caution.
   45. Norcan Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4773722)
At least Mookie's looking like a legitimately great prospect. He's dominating Triple-A with all-around tools, a tremendous feel for the strike zone and hitting line drives for days. Garin Cecchini has had a rough year in Triple-A overall, walking a lot less as pitchers haven't had to fear him hitting for extra-bases. Recently though, he's added a bigger leg lift to his swing and that seems to have unlocked his power. He used to just pick his front foot up a few inches and then put it back in place. And then there's Swihart who has thrown out over half of base stealer with a quick, simple throwing motion that looks similar to Yadier Molina's (no hitch like many catchers have), switch-hits and been really productive with the bat. He's the best catching propsect in baseball.
   46. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4773725)
Through early June, he was hitting extremely well (over .300 with power and pretty good walk %).


He was hit on the hand with pitches in back to back games on June 3rd and 4th and almost immediately went into the tank. I've been convinced for awhile that he's hiding an injury as KT alluded to.

If there is a reasonable basis for discarding the last 65 games of information, then Bogaerts projects as a very good player. Until I hear something about a wrist/hand/thumb injury, I'm not inclined to do so.


He's 21 years old playing in Major League Baseball. If he was 24-25 years old and doing this then yeah, you have to presume he's never going to hit (the Donaldson example a rarity). At 21 I don't think you need to panic. As many have noted a number of players failed at such a young age and went on to great careers. I'm not saying to dismiss the last 75 games but I think it's similarly foolish to dismiss the previous three years of information.
   47. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4773783)
If Bogaerts has had a lingering hand injury, then it's malpractice for the organization to have played him. It becomes pretty easy to explain the change from his first to his second half:

1) Hits well, but with inflated BABIP.
2) Gets plunked.
3) Maintains same approach, but power is sapped.
4) Book gets out on Bogaerts, pitchers challenge him early to get ahead or draw weak contact. BABIP, ISO OBP, ISO SLG drop.
4a) Bogaerts also unlucky on BIP.
   48. PreservedFish Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4773809)
If Bogaerts has had a lingering hand injury, then it's malpractice for the organization to have played him.


How long was he out? People say that hand/wrist injuries often sap power for months after the point where guys start playing again.
   49. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4773834)
The story to explain Bogaerts' batting slump is that he had HBPs on 6/3 and 6/4, but the only time he missed around that was a day off a week later. After that, he was given a day off about once per week for the next few weeks. From what I can tell, he hasn't missed consecutive games all year.

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