Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments.
This one comes from Twitter:
If you could only keep one, Benny or Bogey, who would you guys keep? I’m reluctantly picking Bogey, based mostly on the fact that he plays SS. But it’s a tough one!
— eric abromson (@abromson) August 23, 2018
Man, that is a tough one, and the definition of a great hypothetical problem to have. The Sox’ success has been driven by their superstars — Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, and J.D. Martinez — but there is a second tier of really, really good players that have helped get them to the elite level. Bogaerts and Benintendi are at the front of that line, and David Price (the Sox are in the process of winning their 16th of his last 18 starts as I write this) and Craig Kimbrel are right there behind them.
I wrote a piece a few days ago about how the Red Sox’ regulars rank by position compared to their MLB counterparts. I was surprised to realize that Benintendi leads all major league left fielders in Baseball-Reference’s version of Wins Above Replacement (4.1). It’s obvious that even after a relatively slow start he’s having a good year. But a closer look reveals true excellence. He has 56 extra-base hits (15 homers, 35 doubles, 6 triples). He’s 20 of 22 on steal attempts. He’s walked 61 times — just nine fewer than last year — and has a .378 OBP. And he’s a very dependable left fielder. The expectations for Benintendi have been so high that it became easy to overlook — at least for me — the truth: He’s a star already.
And yet… salary considerations aside, I’d keep Bogaerts over him. He’s also having a wonderful season (.886 OPS entering Thursday’s game, 59 extra-base hits, including 19 homers and a career-high 37 doubles, 80 RBIs), and he plays a premium position. Bogaerts isn’t an extraordinary defensive shortstop, but he’s trustworthy, and the ability to play that position well combined with his offensive production makes him an incredibly valuable player. Plus, it feels like he’s been around for years, but he’s less than two years older than Benintendi.
The Sox are lucky to have both. But if they could have just one, give me the rising star at shortstop over the rising star in left field.
But what do you guys think? Would you rather have Xander Bogaerts or Andrew Benintendi? I’ll hear you in the comments.