Red Sox: Rafael Devers believes he can be even better next season
Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers had the definition of a breakout season in 2019, and according to him, he’s just getting started.
We didn’t have much to be happy about this past season, did we? The Red Sox followed up a dominant World Series campaign with an epic fail of a season that saw them finish third in the AL East and miss the postseason. It wasn’t all hellfire and brimstone in Boston though as we did have a few bright spots in an otherwise dismal year.
Rafael Devers made his debut during the 2017 season and would complete his first full year in the majors in 2018, completing the season with a shiny new Commissioner’s Trophy. He took the momentum he had from 2018 and turned it into one of the absolute best season-long performances by any player in 2019. He’s not done yet though and looks to keep improving his skills.
Raffy was a juggernaut at the plate and it felt like he was making history with every at-bat. Not only did he set numerous career highs most notably in average (.311), OPS (.916), HR (32), and RBI (115). He also played in nearly every game for the Red Sox in 2019 finishing with a final total of 156. This was beyond a breakout season for the young third baseman and it feels like this is more of a launching point than a plateau.
Oh yeah, Devers and Xander Bogaerts would become the first teammates IN MLB HISTORY to be in the “30/50 Club,” having both smacked 30 homers and 50 doubles. The bond between the two was incredibly evident all season as one was rarely seen without the other next to him. Bogey has taken on a mentoring role with Devers and it’s one that the third baseman doesn’t take lightly.
"“Overall, offensively, I feel like I’m proud of everything I’ve been able to do,” said Devers. “I give a lot of credit to Xander [Bogaerts], who has helped me a lot with my preparation and just everything he’s been able to help me with. Just, offensively, I had a really good season and I think I was able to have an overall season that I’m really proud of.”"
It’s no surprise that Devers wants to continue getting better as that’s what everyone in this world wants, I believe. If you’re not striving to get better at what you do then you can only be getting worse. Raffy just celebrated his 24th birthday and is fastly becoming one of the hottest young players in the league.
If the Red Sox had put together a better year and found themselves in the postseason then we very well may have heard Devers’ name in the conversation surrounding the AL MVP. Considering the act that he was doing things statistically that hasn’t been done by a player in a Red Sox uniform since Ted Williams, I’d say that’s an MVP caliber season.
When you place a grade on the season that Rafael put up it couldn’t be anything lower than an “A.” If he puts in the effort this winter that he did during the last then the sky is the limit for his abilities. He has a ridiculous amount of talent and we had a glimpse at what that talent can achieve when it’s matched with hard work.
"“I want to improve on everything,” said Devers. “Just because I had a good season this year doesn’t mean there aren’t things I can’t improve from defense to offense. I just want to improve everything going into next season.”"
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The negatives surrounding Devers’ game would be his defense and his excitement at the plate. 2019 started rough for Raffy as he racked up a handful of errors pretty quickly but would settle down and finish the year 22 total, which is down from his 2018 total of 24. Even though he put up astronomical numbers at the plate he still shows a lack of restraint and swings at pitches he physically couldn’t make contact with.
I can imagine that he’ll be working on looking for the pitches he knows he can crush and not try to win the game on his own with every at-bat. As far as the errors go, that’s all going to get under control in due time. If he continues to work with Bogaerts then I don’t see the errors being an issue for Raffy for much longer.
Per Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Devers may be seeing a contract extension this winter that will keep him with the Red Sox for the foreseeable future. Granted, that will remain to be seen as Boston is set to announce their new Chief Baseball Officer, Chaim Bloom, later today.
Bloom is coming from the Rays and has a great eye for young talent while working with a tight budget. He may see the value in locking up Devers long-term but may not want to blow his budget right away. Rafael has more than earned every penny coming his way after his back-to-back strong performances in 2018 and 2019.
Rafael Devers has become one of the most exciting players to watch in baseball. He’s a firework both at the plate and in the field and it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen when he’s playing. If he continues the work ethic we saw from him this past year then the sky is the limit for this young star.