Rafael Devers found himself on the positive side of the ledger at the end of April, but his performance in May deserves an entirely new set of accolades. Devers took the positive signs he showed in the season’s opening month and exploded as an offensive force. The young third baseman collected 40 hits in 114 at-bats, good for a gleaming .351 batting average. Most impressively, almost half of those hits went for extra bases. Devers roped seven doubles, a triple, and eight home runs, all of which led to an immense 1.021 OPS. Devers played so well in May that he earned AL Player of the Month.
As great to see as the power surge is, we need to spend some time looking at Devers’ traditional weaknesses: his patience at the plate and his defense. Devers spent the offseason working to improve his eye and learn to wait for his pitch, and so far that work is paying off. In April, Devers struck out 17 times in 85 at-bats. Though he took 29 more at-bats in May than he did in April, he struck out just one more time (18). His newfound patience is leading to more contact, and his natural power means that will often be hard contact. Assuming he keeps it up, he should continue to deliver positive results at the plate.
In the field, Devers improved drastically. Nine errors in April gave way to a perfect fielding percentage in May. Of course, he will commit another error at some point; even the best fielders make mistakes, and Devers will probably never be named among the best. However, that’s no reason to discount the work he’s done to fill in the biggest hole in his game. As Devers becomes a complete hitter, it’s nice to see he hasn’t let his glove work fall by the wayside. If he can play average defense at third and continue to hit as well as he did last month, he’ll have the hot corner locked down in Boston for years to come.