The Boston Red Sox have a defensive weakness surfacing at third base. Rafael Devers history with defense is not promising as the error totals increase.
Baseball history is a treasure trove of success and monumental dysfunction. This is dysfunction of the glove, an item that often resulted in a player being a near permanent resident of the minors or the bench. Baseball prior to 1973 was a two-way game and a batter had a responsibility to actually participate in run prevention.
The Boston Red Sox have certainly had their share of incompetence with players who considered the glove a necessary evil before the next at-bat. Dick Stuart was called “Dr. Strangeglove” for a reason. Butch Hobson was a sieve at third base and Mo Vaughn’s bat would put blinders on for those accessing his two-way skill. The implementation of the Designated Hitter most certainly saved many from defensive embarrassment.
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Rafael Devers grabbed everyone’s attention with a series of dramatic hits – most notably the long ball. Devers will suffer the growing pains that young hitters face, but his talent with the bat is undeniable. Devers is a budding master with the stick with his innate ability to simply go with the pitch and not force issues. As Devers matures, you may actually see a David Ortiz type emerge. Yes – that represents my Devers hitting hyperbole.
Where the gloss is tarnished is when Devers takes to the field. As noted in the scouting reports, Devers may be classified (my words) as “average.” That would be generous by what Devers has displayed. Why do visions of Hobson and his 43 errors one season keep on surfacing?
"When Devers signed, there was some thought that he’d outgrow third base and wind up at first base, but he worked diligently on his defense and conditioning. He has the hands and arm for the hot corner, and his underrated instincts give him enough range to make plays.- MLB Prospect Watch"
Devers appears to have excellent baseball instincts as demonstrated by his quick reaction is starting the now famous triple play. Devers also appears to not let a bungled defensive play get him into a funk, so credit some mental stability. What I have seen in the early going is a bit of forcing the issue on far too many plays. Devers’ arm is above average, but his accuracy looks below average.
Six errors in just 25 starts is not a promising beginning. Devers’ fielding percentage is just .902, so one out of ten opportunities results in an error and errors mean another chance for runs. Devers error collection is not new as Devers had 16 errors before his promotion to Boston for a .917 FP. The metrics certainly are not kind with the early sample. That has been Devers modus operandi since the Red Sox signed him – errors.
"Has soft hands and his footwork is surprisingly good given his build. Comfortable charging the ball and making smooth transfers from glove to throwing hand. Agile for his size and has average range. Projects as at least an average defender at third base.- Sox Prospect Watch"
The positive is options do exist if fielding problems persist. Devers can be relocated to first base or DH. A bat of his potential most certainly will find a happy home in the lineup. Devers work ethic has been mentioned and much of it is directed to his glove work. Wade Boggs – as much as I may dislike him – put in an extraordinary effort to improve his fielding. Devers may do the same.
The Red Sox have a defensive weakness at third that cannot be dismissed since ground balls have a nasty way of finding a hole in the fence at the most crucial of moments. This should be rectified with the addition of Deven Marrero as the possibility of a late inning defensive replacement. I could certainly envision Marrero being part of the postseason roster just based on his defensive acumen.