The Red Sox have two rising stars who are getting fans very excited about 2016. Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts are coming into their own and they have been All Star caliber players this year at just 23 years old. Let’s start with the Red Sox as a whole. They not only swept the Orioles, but they didn’t allow a run in the three game series. Although the Sox are not in contention for a playoff spot, there have been a lot of positive stories on the team over the last two months. At one point, in the middle of the season, the Sox were battling for the worst record in the American League. They now sit at 75-80 with an opportunity to finish .500 and finish third in the American League East. Considering where they were, it’s an accomplishment and a big step in the right direction heading into 2016. Going into next year, there will be a lot of expectations of the team considering how they finished and the young talent that’s being developed. It all starts with two 23 year old players who are budding superstars.
The development of Xander Bogaerts has been outstanding. In the second half of last season, there were a lot of questions around whether or not he would become the player he was hyped up to be especially defensively. Bogaerts was moved to third base and many fans wondered if he would ever return to his natural position. Not only has he done that, but he has become elite defensively. He has the second best fielding percentage in the AL at .986. His nine errors are the second least of the ten qualifying shortstops in the AL. Offensively, his .324 average is second in the American League. He needs ten more hits to reach 200. He leads all AL shortstops in the following categories: Runs, Hits, Doubles, RBI, Batting Average, and OPS. He has established himself as the clear cut top shortstop in the American League. This all happened just year after many fans wondered if he would even play the position. We are watching a rising star who looks primed to be one of the best players in baseball for many years to come. If it happens, we will all look back to 2015 as the year Xander figured it out.
Simliar to Bogaerts, Mookie Betts is also establishing himself as a superstar. Betts is batting .291 with 15 home runs and 71 RBI. He also has an .807 OPS and 1 5.6 WAR. He ranks 7th in the AL in WAR. Betts is a complete player. He has been outstanding defensively. For a natural second baseman, his progression in the outfield has been a pleasant surprise. The catch he made on Friday Night to preserve Rich Hill’s shutout was, perhaps, the highlight of the Red Sox season this year. Betts can do it all and going into next year he will be establishing himself as one of the best outfielders in the game. The only question is where he’ll play. It’s possible the Jackie Bradley, Jr. will be the centerfielder and Betts will play right. Either way, there’s a lot to look forward to next year.
Entering Saturday’s games, here were the AL Leaders in batting average over the past 30 days:
1. Mookie Betts .375
2. Xander Bogaerts .371
It’s not out of the question to think that these two players will be leading multiple batting categories for years to come.
The Red Sox have a lot of holes to fill this offseason. The everyday lineup is in good shape. The focus will need to be on pitching. The Sox have four players who have very strong chances to be All Stars next year in Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts. Bogaerts and Betts could be there for many years to come. These two players are the future of the Boston Red Sox.