Red Sox: Torch being passed from young stars to rookies

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 05: Andrew Benintendi
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 05: Andrew Benintendi /

Last year saw the breakout of a trio of young stars representing the future of the Boston Red Sox. Has the torch already been passed to the next wave?

Last season we saw the emergence of three young Boston Red Sox hitters who made their first All-Star appearances. They joined the iconic David Ortiz for his final Midsummer Classic, providing a symbolic passing of the torch moment. Ortiz was riding off into the sunset at the end of the season, paving the way for this young core to supplant him as the faces of the franchise.

Is that torch already being passed down to an even younger generation?

Boston’s offense is being carried in the second half of the season by a pair of rookies. Andrew Benintendi has been one of the league’s hottest hitters since the break, while 20-year old Rafael Devers seems to accomplish new historic milestones every time he takes the field.

Mookie Betts made the leap to MVP candidate last year. He’s still the best defensive player in baseball, a significant factor in why he leads the Red Sox with a 4.2 fWAR. However, his production at the plate has tailed of dramatically.

More from Red Sox News

A scorching month of August has put Benintendi ahead of Betts from an offensive standpoint. The rookie left fielder is hitting .278/.358/.451 this season, compared to .266/.342/.451 for Betts.

A slight edge goes to Betts in several counting stats. His 18 home runs put him one ahead of Benintendi, while he leads in RBI, 72 to 67. Betts has also swiped three more bases, although Benintendi has been coming on strong of late with five steals already this month. The slim gap between them can be chalked up to Betts having 64 more at-bats. Betts may still be the better all-around player, but it’s hard to argue that he’s been a better hitter this season.

It seems like only yesterday that Xander Bogaerts was the pride of the Red Sox infield. He was supposed to be a perennial batting title contender who finally showed his power stroke with a career-high 21 home runs last year. Now the power has evaporated and his batting average has dwindled to .276 during a brutal second-half slump.

More from Red Sox News

Now here comes Devers, the hot shot third baseman taking the league by storm. His .339 average and 1.074 OPS lead the team among hitters who have played at least 16 games. He’s already tied Bogaerts for seventh on the team with six home runs, despite playing in 91 fewer games.

Devers is doing things with his bat that few 20-year olds have ever done, while the days of the 24-year old Bogaerts being considered among the best young shortstops in baseball may already be done.

Then there is Jackie Bradley, who has often been overshadowed by the likes of Betts and Bogaerts. He remains one of the best center field gloves in the game. Following the path of his fellow first time All-Star teammates, Bradley has also seen his offensive production go in the tank. He’s hitting .255 with a .749 OPS, 13 home runs and 45 RBI in 100 games. Those numbers are eerily similar to those he put up in 2015, when many still wondered if his bat would produce enough for him to stick in the lineup.

Last year was all about the Killer B’s. Now all the buzz is about a new crop of rookies.

Has the moment in the sun faded for Betts, Bogaerts and Bradley? All three should only be approaching their primes. They may each be having down seasons, but youth is on their side. There’s no reason to believe we’ve already seen the best season they are capable of.

Next: Historic trials and tribulations of Red Sox third basemen

The rookies are the ones generating the most excitement in this lineup, but the Killer B’s aren’t going away. That trio may not be ready to pass the torch, although with how well these rookies are playing, they may have to share it.