Will the Red Sox have a superstar at third base?
In the introduction, I mentioned Yastrzemski in 1967 and Rafael Devers is quite capable of ringing it up offensively in 2021. Devers’ offense in 2020 was rather pedestrian but the 24-year-old lefty still had a 109 wRC+. The 2019 season that Devers posted spoiled me in the expectations department.
In 2019, Devers led the American League in doubles (54) and Total Bases (359). The run producing totals were magnificent with 129 scored and 115 RBI. Toss in 32 home runs and a 5.9 fWAR. Even Devers’ fielding improved the last half of that season.
This year, manager Alex Cora is back and Devers has – like Yaz in the 1966 offseason – been dedicated to a strict physical and nutritional regime. Cora and Devers apparently have a motivational relationship. This kid can hit. The Statcast numbers are excellent. Now is the time to duplicate 2019 with some added numbers. Even lefties give him minimal difficulties hitting a solid career .265.
The Red Sox will hit. This has the potential of being a great hitting lineup especially with an anticipated J.D. Martinez waking up from a year of video exile. Devers key will be a reduction in his O-Swing% (Outside Zone) and SwStr% (Swinging Strike %). Just a few percent can translate to superior run production.
Devers’ big issue is what it has always been – defense. He is usually among the bottom, if not the bottom, in advanced metrics and traditional statistics. The good news is Devers is an industrious worker regarding his defense and a big play on defense does not carry over to a sulking at-bat.