The Boston Red Sox have a talented young third baseman in Rafael Devers but his defense is a major liability for a team with a laundry list of issues.
The Red Sox came into the week with a wave of momentum after sweeping the division-leading Rays in Tampa Bay. Then they ran into the Detroit Tigers and that momentum train came to a screeching halt. Boston lost both ends of a doubleheader yesterday but for very different reasons. Game 1 was all on the pitching as the bullpen caved under the pressure. Though the pitching wasn’t much better in game 2 it was the defense that gave the game away for the Red Sox.
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The glaring issue in the game last night was Rafael Devers at third base. There were three big plays that showed the inexperience and immaturity that Devers still has when it comes to playing in the majors. He’s incredibly talented and still very young but how long can we continue to use those has cop-outs for his mistakes?
Last night he got eaten up by a ball shooting down the third base line in the 4th inning. It looked as if he was about a half step behind the pace of the ball. Fine, I’m ok with that. We see plays like that every night in baseball, it happens. Unfortunately, that ball led to the Tigers scoring three runs and taking a 3-0 lead on the Red Sox.
In the 5th inning, it was more of the same as Darwinzon Hernandez was on in relief and Josh Harrison sent another show down the third base line. Once again Devers missed the ball and it allowed the Tigers to instantly get in scoring position. Later in the game, Devers would also miss a ball on the inside of third that he could’ve gotten if he had been prepared.
This is the glaring problem facing the Red Sox, they’ve gone all-in on Devers and he should be the future, but at this time he is a major liability in the field. He’s made plays this year that I still can’t figure out how the hell he pulled them off but those have been few and far in between. More often than not I find myself scratching my head at the decisions he’s making in the field.
Of course, I’m not an MLB caliber third baseman and I’m watching the games from the comfort of the stands/my couch, but it’s pretty clear Devers isn’t reliable in the field. Hell, he started the season by racking up multiple games with an error. Not the start the Red Sox were looking for from their franchise third baseman. He’s currently sitting with 6 errors on the year when he had 24 for all of 2018.
The Red Sox have other options at third base and I think it may be time to start looking into them. The top move right now would be to have Michael Chavis become more of the daily third baseman. He was recently called up and has been splitting time between second and third with confidence at both. It gives Devers a chance to get some extra work in while he rests up and also gets more reps in for Chavis who is the top prospect in the Red Sox system.
Through spring training and the early parts of the season, we’ve heard about the extra work Devers is putting in between practice, workouts, and diet/nutrition. A month in the 2019 season and I just don’t see it. It very well may be that he is putting so much pressure on himself to succeed that it’s causing him to have these missteps, we’ve seen it plenty of times before.
Rafael has also been putting in extra work with Dustin Pedroia while Pedey is healing up on the IL. So he’s getting plenty of attention and has a strong support system around him as far as the Red Sox are concerned. I’m optimistic that it will click for the youngster as again he’s only 22 years old.
But with the Red Sox struggling in every aspect of the game right now, they need to make some changes to try and spark a comeback. If that means putting Chavis at third for the meantime instead of Devers then I’m fine with it. Something needs to be done though as the errors and poor fielding judgment just keeps accumulating.
The Red Sox have a great and heavily talented young core of players and Rafael Devers is a big gear in the machine. But with so many defensive miscues so early in the season he hasn’t been the player we’ve needed at this point. As the season progresses I’m more than positive that he’ll put it all together. Boston doesn’t have the luxury of time to wait and see with Devers though and it may be time to make a change before ‘s too late.