The twenty-one year old is proving to be the Red Sox most reliable bat in the clutch and that is something not many players his age can say.
On July 25, 2017, Rafael Devers made his debut in the big league. Around baseball, Devers did not cause much fanfare. But in Boston, Red Sox fans knew this kid had potential.
Now in his first full season with the Boston Red Sox, not many players have been more clutch than Devers has been. He came up with a huge RBI double in the incredible Sunday comeback. He had an inside-the-park home run for Boston in the playoffs last year. Also, how could we all forget about his home run against Aroldis Chapman in New York last year?
But it is not just in those clutch moments when he is great, it’s nearly every time he is at the dish.
Last season, in only 240 plate appearances, he hit .284 with an OPS of .819. He matched that with ten home runs and thirty RBI’s.
He has been even better this year, even when many people projected a sophomore slump. So far this season, Devers is 10-for-31 with a home run and nine RBI’s.
One of the most encouraging things so far is that he is cutting down his strikeout rate. While it is still early, his strikeout rate is down, while his walk rate is up. Last year, Devers struck out in 24% of his plate appearances, but he has cut that down to only 17%. His walk percentage is up from only 8% last year to 14% right now.
One of the knocks on Devers last year was that he chased a lot of pitches, but he seems to have worked on that. He still needs to lay off the high fastball, but every hitter has their weakness.
JD Martinez hasn’t given the Red Sox optimal performance yet, but that is fine. He is still adjusting to a new city and a new team. He will come around.
But with the way that Devers is hitting right now, there is reason to believe he can fill that gap for now. He has hit anywhere from second in the lineup, to eighth this past Sunday. He has the potential to hit anywhere in the lineup except leadoff.
Do not expect Devers to continue to hit .323 with a .965 OPS all season, but do not be surprised if you look up in October and he has been the Red Sox best hitter this season.
Devers is one of the youngest players in baseball, but his game will not show that.
That is the class Devers belongs in. But as of right now, he is showing talent beyond that class. Let’s hope that it keeps up. If so, the Red Sox may have the best young core in baseball for years to come.