BOSTON — The Red Sox lost Friday night, but that does not diminish Xander Bogaerts’ clutch at-bat in the bottom of the ninth.

With two runners on, Bogaerts got ahead in the count 2-1 against Brandon Kintzler, a fastball-sinker-slider reliever. Bogaerts fouled off six of the next seven pitches – all sinkers and sliders – working the count full. He checked his swing on a low fastball, working an 11-pitch walk.

The night before, Bogaerts fell behind 0-2, fouled off two inside pitches, and then poked an outside fastball to right center for a single.

It is all a beautiful showcase of Bogarts’ skill as a batter and his plate discipline. Those two factors, plus his ever-improving shortstop play, are propelling Bogaerts to elite status among major leaguers.

“He’s an all-around player. He’s legitimate,” said teammate Travis Shaw, who has been with Bogaerts in the minors and majors – including the Portland Sea Dogs in 2012-13.

“Twenty-three years-old and an All-Star. He’s going to be a superstar.”

Even after a mini, two-week slump in early July, Bogaerts is third in the major league in hits (125) and sixth in average (.324).

He is also striking out less, walking more, hitting for more power and coming through in the clutch. Among all major league shortstops, Bogaerts is fourth in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at 3.6 – a statistical way of saying he is one of the best.

“He just works so hard and is such a tremendous athlete,” said Red Sox third base/infield coach Brian Butterfield, who has tutored Bogaerts endlessly.

“Some people look at his body type (6-1, 210 pounds) and see only a big body. But when you see the body control when he takes ground balls, and see the tremendous things he can do.

“I have to believe he will only get better.”

Ask Bogaerts about his All-Star status and he almost winces.

“I’m thankful (to be an All-Star), but I have a lot of work to do,” he said.

Bogaerts comes from Aruba – not exactly a baseball factory like the Dominican Republic – but quickly drew the spotlight when he hit 16 home runs in 72 games as an 18-year-old in low Class A Greenville, in 2011. He was in Portland by the end of 2012, and playing for Boston in the 2013 World Series, eventually taking over for the slumping Will Middlebrooks as the starting third baseman.

Bogaerts has been a full-time player since.

His 2014 season was shaky – .240/.297 on-base percentage/.362 slugging average. He struck out in 23 percent of his plate appearances. With runners in scoring position, Bogaerts batted .153/.211/.218.

Part of the problem was Boston moved Bogaerts to third after starting him at shortstop (re-signing Stephen Drew when Middlebrooks got hurt).

Bogaerts, still trying to find his way at the plate, was now moving from a position he loved and prepared to play all off-season and spring training. Bogaerts said the move affected his confidence. Manager John Farrell agrees and still brings up the ill-advised switch. A month ago, when Farrell was asked about moving Bogaerts in the lineup (to protect David Ortiz), Farrell said Bogaerts is going well and “we’re not going to change anything with him … we did that once before.”

Bogaerts improved much in 2015, his first as Boston’s full-time shortstop (.320/.355/.421). His strikeout rate was down to 15.4 percent, although his walks were also down (4.9 percent). With runners in scoring position, Bogaerts batted .331/.364/.450.

Bogaerts just missed making the All-Star team last year, a fact he said motivated him “a little bit.”

But if Bogaerts desires honors, it is only because it is the mark of improvement. Bogaerts is a star who acts the same as he did in the minors. In 2014, when Bogaerts became a certified major leaguer, he was often seen that spring training in the minor league camp, hanging around former teammates.

“You see him and it’s so unreal. He’s not the typical major leaguer,” said current Sea Dogs shortstop Mauricio Dubon, who became friends and then roommates with Bogaerts this past spring training.

“He’s a great player, but he’s a better person than a player. He is so, so humble. You don’t see that from a major leaguer, especially the success that he’s had.”

That humility has Bogaerts always seeking improvement, even with the numbers he is putting up this season.

About those numbers: The average is slightly better (.324), but the on-base percentage (.381) has improved by 26 points, and the slugging average (.469) is up by 48 points, including 11 home runs (after seven last year).

Put runners in scoring position and Bogaerts’ line is .353/.429/.539.

His strikeout rate (14.8) is down, while the walk percentage (8.2) is way up. Bogaerts is taking the sliders out of the strike zone and squaring up on balls he can drive.

“His overall game is better,” said Red Sox assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez. “His plate discipline … His ability to hit the ball to all fields … Not trying to do too much in situations. Just take what they give him.

“And he continues to improve.”

The numbers are impressive. Tell Bogaerts that and he offers a “thank you,” and reminds you that “I’m still swinging at a lot of balls, though. I would like to go the other way more in the second half. I’ve been pulling as of late.”

Bogaerts’ power comes from pulling the ball to left. When he’s patient, he takes the outside offering and sends it to right – like he did Thursday night.

Farrell noticed Bogaerts had been “lunging at times” during his mini-slump. But he’s adjusting, like the veteran player he’s becoming.

“His experience, his pitch selection, all of that … With his performance, he’s certainly grown in confidence,” Farrell said. “Bogey being an everyday player at a premium position, he just continues to grow in importance.”

An important part of the Red Sox and likely an expensive one, soon.

Bogaerts, who makes $650,000, will be eligible for salary arbitration next year. A salary in the high seven figures is feasible. And the paydays will only get bigger with Bogaerts eligible for free agency after the 2019 season.

Bogaerts won’t say if he would sign a contract extension before then – an unlikely move considering his agent is Scott Boras, whose clients almost always test the free agent market. Previously, Bogaerts has only said he would like Boston to keep its young players together.

It seems like good idea. Going after free agents is risky ($95 million for five years of Pablo Sandoval, for example).

Xander Bogaerts, who does not turn 24 until Oct. 1, seems like a sure thing – and getting better.