After exploding onto the big league scene late in 2017, much was expected from Rafael Devers last season, perhaps too much given his age. The 22-year-old third baseman stumbled out of the gates, and only seemed to get worse as the season wore on.
However, Cora’s patience showed signs of paying off toward the end of the year. Devers’ defense began to improve dramatically and while he still made some boneheaded plays now and then, he seemed to make just as many spectacular ones in the second half. His offense also picked up in September; his five home runs and 11 RBI that month were more than he had of either in July and August combined.
Devers certainly has the tools. His power, when he’s able to harness it, is incredible. He can make all the plays at third when he’s at his best. Right now, he needs to work on control and consistency. Both of those come with maturity. His experiences last year should have at least advanced him in that regard.
With a full season of playing time now securely under his belt, we can now fairly expect to see clear, sustained progress from Devers. He does not yet need to become a superstar hitter, but he does need to be a reliable contributor. His defense may never be outstanding, but he needs to make the routine plays more, well… routinely. He’ll still make mistakes and there should still be some growing pains, but the Red Sox need more of his hype to translate to reality this year. The work he puts in this spring will go a long way toward showing us what kind of player Devers will be this year.