Last night, once again, I dutifully flipped on the TV to watch the last vestiges of this wasted Red Sox season float off into the breeze. Then I realized that Xander was given the night off. And I gotta say, the night was kinda ruined for me.
Look, I don’t want to get all sentimental on you. But to me, a game without Xander is like a day without sunshine.
With respect to Jackie Bradley Jr., Papi’s 500th home run, the Rise of Mookie Betts, Joe Kelly’s almost surreal run of good luck and Rick Porcello not exploding after winning two games in a row, the story of the 2015 Red Sox season has been Xander Bogaerts. Man, it’s not even close.
And it gets even bigger when you put it into context. Think back to Xander’s last season. The interminable hitting slumps. The shaky D. The Stephen Drew fiasco. The concussion after a King Felix beaning. The constant cries among sports radio callers for X to follow JBJ back to Pawtucket. Honestly, If Bogie had just packed his shit, waved a double bird as he walked out the door and said, “fuck this shit,” I wouldn’t have blamed him.
One year ago, he looked lost, bewildered, untethered, unfocused. Today, he’s got the second-best average in the American League. Second most hits in the AL and most of any shortstop. He’s got a chance at a batting title. And when it comes to defense, he does shit like this almost nightly:
We knew the kid had it in him; you don’t just get dropped into the 2013 ALCS and acquit yourself as well as X did if you don’t have the goods. But we could have bet with house money and odds provided by Mybookie.ag and still not have predicted just how much of a quantum improvement he’d make in 2015 over 2014.
More importantly, it seems that with Xander, the best is yet to come. True, he’s not hitting for power. The home runs and OPS aren’t where they should be. But if the baby steps he needs to take to get there are a potential AL batting title and some fine-ass glove work like he’s been treating us to almost nightly? I’ll take it.
Unfortunately, the rise in Xander’s stock makes him a potentially valuable trade chip during the offseason, especially if Dombrowski is willing to take the offensive hit by installing Marrero at short.
I’m just hoping that good sense prevails and the kid becomes the centerpiece of our team, and the shortstop-for-life that Nomar should have been.
Because a game without Xander is like a day without sunshine.