Entering this season Carlos Correa was thought to be baseball's best young shortstop. After winning the rookie of the year award in just 99 games last season, Correa has hit .273 with 7 homers and 19 RBI so far in 2016. What is most impressive about his start is how he has increased his walk rate from 9.3% in 2015 to 13.7% this year. This shows the 21-year-old is developing a better understanding of the strike zone and is increasing his ability to get on base. While there is still an argument to be made for Correa as the best shortstop in baseball, the favorite for that honor now belongs to Xander Bogaerts.
Despite a strong showing for Boston in the 2013 playoffs as a rookie, Bogaerts struggled in 2014 both offensively and defensively. Mid way through the year the Red Sox made a huge mistake by signing Stephen Drew and shifting Bogaerts to third base, which he has admitted shook his confidence. All in all that year he made 10 errors in 99 games at short and 10 more errors in 44 games at third. To his credit, however, he has improved tremendously defensively. In 2015 he made the same 10 errors but this time in 156 games. Through 37 games in 2016 he has made just one.
From 2014 to 2015 Bogaerts raised his batting average a whopping 80 points, from .240 to .320 and won the silver slugger award. A major reason for this was Xander cutting down on the strikeouts. As a 23-year-old in 2016 he has reduced his strikeout to walk ratio for the third straight season. He currently leads the American League in hits and is hitting .338. Since April 20 he is batting an insane .414 with 41 hits in just 23 games. He is also quieting concerns about his power, or lack thereof. After hitting just seven homers in 2015, Bogaerts already has four this year.
Baseball has a track record of groups of young shortstops coming up at the same time. In the late 1990s we saw Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra all rise to stardom together. In the mid 2000s it was Jose Reyes, Hanely Ramirez, and Troy Tulowitzki. Bogaerts and Correa headline this next wave and are joined by Corey Seager, Addison Russell, and Francisco Lindor. We do not yet know who of this new generation will rise to the top. The good news for Red Sox fans is it appears Bogaerts has the inside track.