Bogaerts a finalist for AL Gold Glove Award
BOSTON -- The dramatic improvement that Xander Bogaerts displayed on defense has landed him as one of three American League finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at shortstop.
From the first day of Spring Training in 2015, Red Sox coaches and players raved about how Bogaerts improved his quickness in the field. And as time evolved, it also became apparent how much more instinctual Bogaerts became at one of the key spots on the diamond.
The other two finalists in the AL are Alcides Escobar of the Royals and Didi Gregorius from the Yankees.
The winners will be announced on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Though Bogaerts had 196 hits, his offense was not the element that pleased him most about his second full season in the Majors.
"Honestly, defense," Bogaerts said recently. "I always knew I had good hands, but just making all those plays, sometimes I'm like, 'Wow, you really came a long way. Definitely be proud of yourself.'
"Now I learned to throw the ball more accurately over there. I learned what my body needs to do, the right position I need to be in. That was the best thing for me, just kind of realizing and understanding what I needed to do to get into a good position."
Bogaerts is just 23 years old, which means he will probably continue to improve.
In a disjointed 2014 season, Bogaerts started the season at short, then moved to third after the re-acquisition of Stephen Drew, and then reclaimed shortstop for the final two months.
But the Red Sox have now made a full commitment to Bogaerts as their shortstop, and they hope he is there for many more years.
"I'll just try to stay the same, make sure I'm fundamentally sound, especially defensively," said Bogaerts. "Later on in the season, my feet just got tired. I could feel myself during practice not using them anymore, but you have to grind it out, and just make sure I kept doing what I'd been doing. I think I have a pretty good idea about what I'm doing, especially on defense right now."
Each manager and up to six coaches on his staff vote from a pool of qualified players in their League and can't vote for players on their own team. Last year, Rawlings added a sabermetric component to the Gold Glove selection process, as part of its collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The SABR Defensive Index counts for approximately 25 percent of the overall selection total, with the managers and coaches' vote continuing to carry the majority.
Bogaerts played 156 games at shortstop, making 11 errors in 676 total chances. His range factor per game was 4.26, according to Baseball Reference, compared to 2.30 in 2014.