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A letter to Xander Bogaerts
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Dear Xander,

I can call you Xander, right? I thought "Mr. Bogaerts" would be a little too formal. Plus, I just like saying the name Xander.

First off, congratulations. I'm glad somebody finally knocked off the Cardinals. Things were getting a little too chummy in St. Louis.

I'm still pretty astonished the Red Sox won after everything that happened with Bobby V a year earlier. Do you guys still keep in touch? I hope not.

Anyway, I thought you were great in the playoffs. Your beard needs some work (are you guys really shaving them this year or is Jonny Gomes just yanking our chains?) but that .296 average you posted was pretty legit. Too legit to quit, some might argue.

Tough year for Will Middlebrooks, huh? First you steal his third base job from him and now they're sending his girlfriend, sideline reporter Jenny Dell, back to the studio. Give Will a hug when you see him. He probably needs one.

Speaking of third base, is that the plan for this year? Or are you going to move over to shortstop? It doesn't matter to me. I say the more the merrier.

I don't know if you saw this but Keith Law from ESPN just ranked you the second-best prospect in baseball. Can you believe that? He actually put someone ahead of you. And the player he picked, Minnesota outfielder Byron Buxton, has never played a minute above Single-A. The nerve of that guy.

But seriously, No. 2 is nothing to be ashamed of. I came in second in a hot dog eating contest once and I'm still darn proud of it. Also if they had a superlative for this, I'm pretty sure I would have won "second-best dresser" in high school. Tough to argue with Mike Moulton though. That guy made Sinatra look like a hobo.

I guess the real question is, Xander, can you live up to the hype? I've got a bunch of fantasy drafts coming up and I don't know where in the world to pick you. Come on, help a brother out.

Some people are saying, "eh, he's too young to really make a difference." Oh really? Mike Trout was 21 in 2012. If the Angels had made the playoffs, he probably would have won MVP.

So age isn't a deal breaker for me. And if I'm being brutally honest, the shortstop position in fantasy has been a joke the past couple of seasons.

Want to know how many shortstops hit .300 in 2013? Only one: Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki (.312). If you can promise me you'll hit at least .280, it's going to be awfully tough to pass on you.

But here's what I'm concerned about. In 27 postseason at bats, you homered exactly zero times. Even that joker Stephen Drew homered once.

Where's the power, big guy? It's not like you're Pedroia-sized or anything (the Red Sox list you at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds).

I guess 27 at bats is too small a sample size to judge. After all, you did hit 15 long balls in the minors last year (nine in Double-A, six in Triple-A).

You have another thing going for you, too. The "out-of-nowhere postseason hero" is a good label to have in fantasy.

Remember when that Ellsbury character (awkwarddd ...) fell from the sky and hit .360 during the 2007 playoffs? Well, maybe you don't. You were only 15 at the time. Either way, he hit .280 the following season and led the league in stolen bases (50). Jackpot.

That's not the only time that's happened either. Maybe you've heard of Paul Goldschmidt. That guy was a monster during the 2011 playoffs (.438 AVG, .813 SLUG in 16 at bats). The next year he clubbed 20 HR and hit .286. A year later, he was even more dominant (.302, 36 HR, league-leading 125 RBI), finishing second to Andrew McCutchen in MVP voting.

Much like you, nobody knew who the heck Goldschmidt was before his playoff explosion. Josh Donaldson and Desmond Jennings have followed that same path to success in recent years.

Who cares if you don't have much power and you're still relatively unproven? Keith Law's a believer and I am too.

Before I go, I heard you speak four languages. How do you say "welcome aboard" in Dutch? That's right. I've decided to pick you for my fantasy team, Xander.

Or Mr. Bogaerts. Whichever you prefer.

Write back anytime. I'll just be here waiting for baseball season to start.

Sincerely,

Jesse

P.S. We've got to do something about your number. Seventy-two isn't a baseball number. Shoot me an email and we'll brainstorm.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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