Xander Bogaerts has picked up his first major league award (aside from, y'know, the whole World Series thing), being named the American League Silver Slugger at shortstop for 2015.
While Bogaerts' defensive leap forward was the big surprise of his season, the jump he made at the plate was just as dramatic. Bogaerts struggled mightily during his rookie season, going ice-cold through the middle months after a hot start, only managing to finish with a .240/.297/.362 batting line after a late surge picked him up slightly. 2015, on the other hand, saw him start a little slow, heat up with the weather, and finish on fire. All told, he hit .320/.355/.421 in 654 plate appearances.
But this isn't about the most improved shortstop. Just the best. And there Xander is the obvious choice in the American League, at least among qualified players (sorry, Lindor/Correa, them's the rules). Asdrubal Cabrera was the next best the league had to offer with a line of .265/.315/.430, and while Troy Tulowitzki made the midseason jump from NL to AL, even when you give him credit for his Rockies performance, Xander's advantage in OBP outweighs Tulo's in SLG.
Given that Correa and Lindor will get their first full seasons in 2016, Bogaerts is going to have to work very hard to keep this spot atop American League shortstops. But as Joon Lee said in examining Bogaerts' big year, his late-season surge was connected to injuries healing up, which means we could be in line for more of what we saw in September. If that's the case, then he'll be able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Correa, Lindor, and whoever else might challenge him.