Bogaerts joins 3 Hall of Famers in exclusive Red Sox club

September 18th, 2022

BOSTON -- For Xander Bogaerts, the sweet swing that resulted in an RBI double off the Green Monster in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s 13-3 romp over the Royals resembled so many others that he has taken in his consistently excellent career with the Red Sox.

But this one had a special slice of history. By belting career hit No. 1,400, Bogaerts joined three Hall of Famers (Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr and Jim Rice) as the only players in Red Sox history to reach that number before turning 30 years old.

“It’s special, you know, when you reach stuff like that,” Bogaerts said. “Most of the time I don’t know about stuff until someone comes up and tells me about it. But it felt good. Especially winning.”

It is a milestone that has some added meaning, given that Bogaerts has just 13 days left in his 20s -- not to mention the uncertainty of whether he will be back with Boston next season.

After debuting as a 20-year-old in 2013, Bogaerts has done damage equaled by just a rarified few throughout Red Sox history.

“All three of them are much better players than me,” Bogaerts said of Yaz, Rice and Doerr. “I feel like for me to be on that list is special. I still feel great. I feel in good shape. I feel young. Hopefully I can do this for a long time.”

Red Sox fans are hoping that Bogaerts spends his 30s in Boston, too. The star shortstop has an opt-out clause from the remaining three years of his contract following the season, and there is an expectation within the industry that he will exercise it.

The question is whether the Red Sox can find common ground on an extension with their leader this offseason after he's done so.

These last two weeks of the season represent a time for Boston to appreciate Bogaerts and all he has done through the years.

Though there’s no pennant race for Bogaerts, he is chasing his first career batting title. Bogaerts held a .316 average after the win, which tied him with Aaron Judge for second in the American League and just one point behind leader Luis Arraez. That gives Bogaerts something to have laser focus on over Boston’s final 16 games and perhaps allows him to drift his attention away from a disappointing season for the team, not to mention his contract uncertainty.

“Yeah, it is [something that will keep me focused],” said Bogaerts. “I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But I’m aware of it. A couple of weeks back, I wasn’t really in the conversation, but I’m that guy since I put myself in it. It’s something that’s in reach. I feel like I just try to get more locked in and I’m going to try to go for it. That’s how I’ve always been.”

After a rough August, Bogaerts has caught fire in September. In his last 79 at-bats, Bogaerts is hitting .418 with seven doubles, four homers and 18 RBIs.

“Just, all around, the last few weeks have been impressive,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Bogaerts. “Driving the ball, taking what they give him, being more selective in certain counts. Obviously we love the fact that he plays every day. The way he goes about it. I always said, he’s the most consistent person in this organization. It’s fun to watch, and be ready for Tuesday.”

Tuesday is when the Red Sox open a six-game road trip that starts in Cincinnati and continues onto New York.

The home games are the ones Bogaerts has loved the most during his time with the Red Sox, to the point that he almost never allows Cora to give him a day off at Fenway.

There are seven dates left at Fenway on the 2022 calendar, meaning there is likely to be some pretty deep reflection for Bogaerts in the coming weeks.

“I know I’ll get to a point where, once I start getting closer, being more realistic, from five [home games] to four to three to one more, it’s going to get to you,” said Bogaerts. “We end the season at home. So, that’s going to be an interesting homestand for me. I just take it day by day and try to stay really focused on the job that I have to do.”

That focus has helped Bogaerts win two World Series titles and achieve many milestones, the latest of which he reached on Sunday.