How they climb higher
Bogaerts and Devers are already among the best at their positions at the plate. They are extra-base hitting machines who can hit for average and drive in runs.
To join the elite class, both will need to improve defensively. The top of the rankings at both of these positions are populated with Gold Glove candidates and the Red Sox infield duo isn’t close to being in that conversation.
Bogaerts makes enough flashy plays to convince the casual observer that he passes the eye test but the advanced metrics aren’t convinced. He ranked dead last among qualified MLB shortstops with -21 defensive runs saved and he was in the middle of the pack with 1.1 UZR. He doesn’t pile up a ton of errors but that’s because you can’t be charged with one if you never got to the ball to begin with. Xander’s range is among the worst at his position.
The designated hitter role may be in Devers’ future if he doesn’t polish his glove skills. No third baseman committed more than the 22 errors that Devers was charged with last season. His -6 defensive runs saved put him ahead of only three other qualified third basemen. Devers was a butcher with the glove early in the season before showing improvement in the second half. He’ll need to carry that into next season by avoiding the mental lapses that lead to frustrating mistakes.
There probably aren’t any Gold Gloves in their future but both Red Sox infielders have the tools to become solid defenders. Combine that with their prolific bats and they both have the potential to reach that elite class at their positions.