FORT MYERS, Fla. – Not since the late 1990s, when Nomar Garciaparra, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter were all about to enter the prime of their respective careers, has baseball boasted so many terrific young shortstops.
From Francisco Lindor to Carlos Correa to Corey Seager, the position rests in good, talented hands.
It’s easy to forget, too, that not so long ago, Xander Bogaerts seemed poised to be part of that elite group. Before he turned 24, he had twice won Silver Sluggers, emblematic of being the best offensive player at his position. He hit .320 in 2015 and in 2016, posted an .802 OPS and was chosen to start in the All-Star Game.
Then, 2017 happened. Bogaerts saw his numbers decline in virtually every offensive category. His homers dropped by more than half, while in the field, his errors increased.
This spring, Bogaerts is undergoing something of a makeover. Infield instructor Carlos Febles and quality control coach Ramon Vazquez have worked intently on his defensive game, and new hitting instructor Tim Hyers has tweaked his stance some and gotten him to make some adjustments at the plate aimed at unlocking some untapped power.
His new manager, Alex Cora, a shortstop by trade once himself, believes Bogaerts hasn’t come close to tapping his potential.