Red Sox: Rafael Devers passes a legend with latest extra-base hit

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 19: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox reacts before a game against the New York Yankees on September 19, 2020 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 19: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox reacts before a game against the New York Yankees on September 19, 2020 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The 2020 season had been postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers is piling up extra-base hits

The Boston Red Sox followed an epic 20-run obliteration of the Tampa Bay Rays by scoring one measly run in the finale of the series with their division rival. The offense was quiet on Thursday afternoon but the hit that drove in Boston’s lone run was a milestone for Rafael Devers.

With two outs in the fourth inning, Devers lined a fastball into the gap in deep right center field on the first pitch he saw. The ball took a fortunate bounce toward the center field triangle to give Kike Hernandez plenty of time to score from first base to tie the game.

It was the 31st double of the season for Devers, tying him with teammates J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts for third in the American League and fourth in the majors.

This was also the 247th extra-base hit of his career, passing Tony Conigliaro for the third-most in franchise history before turning 25 years old. Only Ted Williams (314) and Bobby Doerr (260) have collected more by that age in a Red Sox uniform.

Devers is already in elite territory as an extra-base hitting machine but he might not be done climbing this list. His 25th birthday isn’t until October, giving him the remaining 45 games of the regular season to add to his total.

With 60 extra-base hits in 111 games played, Devers is averaging approximately 0.54 XBH per game. At that pace, assuming he plays in all 45 games down the stretch, Devers would add another 24 extra-base hits to comfortably pass Doerr. That still places him well short of Williams though. Devers would need to average over 1.5 extra-base hits over the remaining 45 games to have a chance so it appears Teddy Ballgame’s franchise record for players under 25 is safe.

No major league hitter has more extra-base hits than Devers over the last three seasons. He led the majors with 90 in 2019 and currently ranks third this season. Last year’s shortened season dampened everyone’s totals but Devers still ranked in the top-10 and third in the AL with 28 extra-base hits.

The pace that Devers is on is incredible. He’s averaging 0.491 extra-base hits over 503 career games. To put that in perspective, David Ortiz tallied 1192 career extra-base hits, which ties him for 8th in major league history. Big Papi averaged 0.495 per game.

Granted, we can’t necessarily count on Devers playing until he’s 40 but he doesn’t need to play that long in order to approach a similar total of games played. He started his career as a 20-year-old and established himself as a fixture in the lineup earlier than Ortiz did in his career. Ortiz appeared in over 2400 career games. If Devers comes remotely close to that total while maintaining his extra-base hit average, he’ll still fall short of Ortiz but could pass Carl Yastrzemski (1157).

Obviously, this projection makes several assumptions and we’re far too early in his career to  determine if Devers will reach that legendary status. It’s still interesting to note how Devers ranks among active players since his breakout season and what he could potentially accomplish if he can keep it up over the course of a lengthy career.

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