One of the appeals that Disney offers in many of its movies is that its message is timeless. It invokes in its spectators a youthful energy and imagination. This youthful energy characterizes Xander Bogaerts’ play and it has quickly helped him blossom into one of the game’s best shortstops.
Bogaerts approaches every game with a youthful energy and that has been present ever since his earliest playing days. Red Sox scout Mike Lord can attest to that.
Back in 2009, Lord showed up in Aruba looking for a potential star. Enter the then 16 year old Bogaerts.
You had to double-check yourself,” Lord said — but there was something else, something intangible that separated him from his peers.
“I think the X-factor on him — no pun intended — was his makeup,” Lord recalled by phone. “You saw him smile, laugh, just the enjoyment he got from playing the game. They call Aruba ‘one happy island.’ You could see how happy he was. I hope he never loses it.”
Based on how Bogaerts is hitting, his enthusiasm for the game seems to be going strong. He leads the American League in batting average with a .359 mark and has more hits than anyone in the Majors since the beginning of last season.
Bogaerts also pays attention to his success, but it is attitude toward that success that has made him stand out among a crowd of elite young shortstops.
“He’s the best shortstop in the game — by far,” admittedly biased Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said. “I throw him on top of anybody in the game. He’s in the top tier best players in the game right now. No question. You tell me two players better than him in the game right now, more complete than him. I don’t think there’s that many.”
Looking back on how Bogaerts rose to prominence, there was a chance the Red Sox could have passed on him, if it was not for his twin brother Jair telling Lord that his brother was sick with chicken pox and that he needed to see him when he was fully healthy.
After seeing him, Lord knew that Bogaerts had the chance to be one of the best players, not only on the Sox, but in all of Major League Baseball.
Despite all the fame that Bogaerts could accumulate in his time playing baseball, Lord hopes that what he saw 7 years ago remains the same.
“I just want him to stay a kid as long as he can as far as his enjoyment of the game goes,” Lord said. “I hope the wonder stays there and he goes out, looks out in the crowd and is like, ‘Wow, I used to take ground balls on a rocky field in Aruba. This is amazing.’ I hope he really enjoys it.”