It’s too obvious to call Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts an X-factor (get it?). And it’s an understatement to simply call him a factor in Boston’s rise to the top of the American League East standings.

Bogaerts has been much more than a mere factor. He’s been a revelation. And he might just be the best of the Red Sox’s current, enviable crop of homegrown impact players.

After going 1-for-3 with a home run in the Red Sox’s 10-3 drubbing of the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday, Bogaerts is hitting .349 with five homers, 26 RBI and a .917 OPS. 

Add his plus defensive abilities at a premium position, and it’s no wonder the 23-year-old entered play Wednesday at sixth in the game with 2.6 wins above replacement (WAR), just ahead of the Washington Nationals‘ Bryce Harper at 2.3.

Bogaerts isn’t the only young Boston player contributing to the team’s early success. Far from it.

Slick-fielding 26-year-old center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games Wednesday and is now hitting .350 with a 1.042 OPS.

Right fielder Mookie Betts, also just 23 years old, has nine home runs and 35 RBI.

And 26-year-old Travis Shaw, who won the third base job from an out-of-shape and subsequently injured Pablo Sandoval in spring training, is hitting .306 with a .902 OPS.

But Bogaerts, who is working on an 18-game hitting streak of his own, is quietly emerging as the crown jewel.

“It’s crazy what he’s been doing,” Betts said of his teammate, per John Tomase of “It’s almost like you expect a hit every time now. You know you’re going to get a good at-bat, and then when he gets a hit, it’s just like, well, that’s the story of Xander.”

Last year, in his second full season, the story of Xander included hitting .320 and rapping out 196 hits for the last-place Red Sox. 

Maybe the biggest knock against him was his low walk total, as he drew just 32 free passes in 654 plate appearances.

This season, through 208 plate appearances, he’s more than halfway to that tally with 17 walks. Concurrently, his on-base percentage has crept over .400.

“Say it with me—Xander Bogaerts is a superstar,”’s Paul Swydan recently opined. “Maybe he could be as good as Nomar.”

He’s not there yet. But it’s getting to the point where comparisons to a franchise icon and six-time All-Star such as Garciaparra don’t sound false or far-fetched.

“He’s grown in confidence,” manager John Farrell said, per Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram. “He’s coming off a very strong year last year where he really entrenched himself as an everyday major league player. His abilities are very unique in that he’s got power, he’s got such great hand-eye coordination, bat-to-ball ability.”

He is, to put it plainly, the complete package.

This is the part where we note the Red Sox’s offense hasn’t been fueled solely by whipper-snappers. Designated hitter David Ortiz is apparently swilling from the fountain of youth in his farewell season, and others—including second baseman Dustin Pedroia and first baseman Hanley Ramirez—are chipping in.

It’s the young bats, however, who are providing hope for the future as well as the present.

The Red Sox won the World Series in 2013 before suffering back-to-back last-place finishes. Now, the idea is they can return to the October stage and stay there a while.

Bogaerts fuels that, and makes it feel like an attainable goal rather than a pipe dream.

Sure, he’s still relatively untested. Rough patches and regression are likely. But lest you think he’s destined for a fade, remember: Last year, he raised his average more than 30 points and his OPS more than 50 points in the second half.

In a three-game series against the Oakland A’s May 9-11, Bogaerts went 7-for-14. In the process, he earned high praise from the opposition, related via Ortiz.

“You know what a catcher told me the other day when I got to the plate?” Ortiz said, per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. “The catcher for the A’s, he told me that guy right now might be the best hitter in the game. … So when you hear things like that about a guy that two years ago was trying to learn how to establish himself at this level, it’s damn good.”

It’s too obvious to call Bogaerts an X-factor.

But it feels exactly right to call him damn good.


All statistics current as of May 25 and courtesy of FanGraphs and unless otherwise noted.

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