Red Sox: Rafael Devers 4-hit game puts him in rare company
By Sean Penney
Rafael Devers achieved a milestone that few in Boston Red Sox history have done at his age by collecting four hits in a game.
To say that Rafael Devers is flourishing at the major league level would be an understatement. How good has the Boston Red Sox rookie third baseman been in his brief time in the big leagues? Historically good.
Devers went 4-for-4 at the plate Monday night in only the sixth game of his career. He collected his second career double and fourth RBI along the way. That alone would be impressive enough, yet it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to appreciating the scorching start to his career.
The four-hit performance puts Devers in elite territory in franchise history. He joins Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Dalton Jones and Tony Conigliaro as the only Red Sox players in the last 100 years to collect four hits in a game at age 20 or younger. The first two names on that list are arguably the two best hitters to ever play the game, while Tony C may have been on a Hall of Fame path if not for a career altering injury.
What I find most impressive about the four hits Devers racked up is that each was hit in a different direction. A base hit up the middle, a double off the Green Monster, a sharp grounder that slips between the infielders on the left side of the diamond and another base hit that drops in front of the right fielder. He’s taking what pitchers give him and using all parts of the field.
Devers enters the day hitting .417 in 24 at-bats. The 10 hits that he’s collected are the most by a Red Sox player through the first six games of their career since Ted Cox in 1977.
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Is there anything Devers can’t do? The left-handed hitter is even producing against southpaws. So far he’s 2-for-6 with a double against lefties. He struck out in his other four plate appearances against lefties, which may be a better indicator of his readiness to face them at this level. Still, he’s holding his own enough to avoid a strict platoon scenario.
The Red Sox desperately needed an infusion of offense to spark their slumping lineup and they’re getting it from Devers and the recently acquired Eduardo Nunez. The three hits that the former San Francisco Giant delivered in Monday’s win would have been a bigger story if he hadn’t been overshadowed by Devers.
Both new additions are primarily third basemen, but given how well each is hitting the Red Sox will need to continue to find way to squeeze both in the lineup. Devers and Nunez are a combined 18-40 (.450) with three doubles and four homers since joining the team last week. Nunez has been filling in at second base while Dustin Pedroia rests his ailing knee and he’s also capable of giving Xander Bogaerts a breather at shortstop. Both players have been better than advertised defensively at third base so far, yet giving them the occasional start in the DH role would be another way to fit them in the lineup.
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Those wondering why the Red Sox didn’t do more to add to the lineup beyond Nunez fail to realize the impact Devers is having. He is the big bat the Red Sox acquired at the deadline. A case can be made that Devers provides Boston with more of an upgrade than any position player who switched teams this week. If he keeps hitting at anywhere near his current pace, it will be difficult to argue otherwise.