When most people think about feared pitchers in Major League Baseball, guys like Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Aroldis Chapman immediately come to mind.
Xander Bogaerts isn't "most people."
The Boston Red Sox shortstop revealed Tuesday on the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon which pitcher he fears most in the league, and his answer was a surprising one.
“In spring training I got asked who might be the pitcher you fear the most or something like that and I said Jeff Samardzija,” Bogaerts said. “I haven’t faced him in awhile. I faced him a lot when he was with the White Sox.”
Bogaerts is 1-for-6 vs. Samardzija in his career, last facing the right-hander in 2015. Now, Samardzija is a part of the San Francisco Giants rotation and could end up facing Bogaerts when they visit Fenway Park for a series in September.
“When he’s been with the Giants now I haven’t seen him as much. They’re coming here soon, so hopefully I don’t have to face him," said Bogaerts. "Jeff Samardzija, the way he throws it. he just looks at you like he doesn’t fear anything. Some people have different guys, I have Jeff Samardzija.”
While it certainly isn't a popular choice, Bogaerts picking Samardzija does make some sense. The 34-year-old is an imposing figure on the mound at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and has enjoyed several productive seasons during his 12 years in the big leagues. That includes this season, as he's currently 9-9 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
If Samardzija does indeed face Bogaerts next month, that feeling of fear probably will be mutual. With 27 home runs and a whopping .946 OPS entering Tuesday night, the Aruban has been one of the Red Sox' best offensive players in 2019.
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