Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers rising up rankings at loaded positions

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 13: Rafael Devers #11 high fives Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning of a game against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park on June 13, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 13: Rafael Devers #11 high fives Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning of a game against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park on June 13, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 23: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox hits an RBI single in the fourth inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 23, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 23: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox hits an RBI single in the fourth inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 23, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Ranking the third basemen

Devers is only seventh on Olney’s list of third basemen but that speaks to the depth of the position.

Alex Bregman is an obvious choice to lead the list at the hot corner. He was the runner-up for AL MVP and led his position with a 1.015 OPS, 8.4 WAR and 168 wRC+ last season.

It’s easy to see why Anthony Rendon was the prize of this year’s free-agent class. He led the majors with 126 RBI and his 1.010 OPS was sixth, trailing only Bregman among third basemen. That earned him the second Silver Slugger Award of his career and he finished third in NL MVP voting.

Nolan Arenado has made five consecutive All-Star appearances with four Silver Slugger Awards in that span. He also gets a Coors Field boost but his home/road splits aren’t quite as extreme as they are with Story. Arenado has won seven consecutive Gold Gloves so there’s no doubting his value regardless of his inflated offensive production.

Matt Chapman‘s offensive numbers trail the elite options but a power spike that led to a career-high 36 home runs gives his bat a bit more recognition. He’s arguably the best defensive player at any position so his high ranking is warranted.

Now we’re venturing into the territory where we can make an argument for Devers being higher on the list.

Josh Donaldson had a strong bounce-back season after a 2018 campaign spoiled by injury. His .259 batting average was well below his normal level but he drew enough walks to raise his OBP above Devers, who was in the batting title race. Both players had similar power numbers. Donaldson’s superior defense and track record place him ahead of Devers for now but not for much longer. Would you rather have the 34-year old Donaldson or the 23-year old Devers for the long-term? That’s an easy choice.

Kris Bryant is another former MVP who successfully worked his way back from an injury-plagued 2018 season. His offensive production was also very similar to Devers last season but unlike Donaldson, Bryant’s glove doesn’t give him a clear advantage. Devers was more valuable last season than Bryant’s 3.6 WAR. Ranking Bryant ahead of Devers seems based more on reputation than where their value currently stands.