1. Rafael Devers’ defense looks vastly improved
When Spring Training opened, there was a lot of talk about how far Rafael Devers had come defensively since last season. But as Red Sox fans, this wasn’t the first time we had heard this. There were similar rumblings heading into last season, and then Devers went on to lead all major league third basemen with 22 errors.
But this year is supposed to be different. And it might seem crazy to think – but what if it actually is?
After a strong defensive first series of the season in the Bronx, Devers played his second straight series of error-free baseball in Detroit. And while it’s probably still too small of a sample size to get overly excited, there is a lot of optimism that Devers’ improved defense could be for real.
In the past, Devers’ defensive woes have centered primarily around the accuracy of his arm. Before the season started, Red Sox Manager Alex Cora talked about it with Tony Massarotti on The Baseball Hour podcast.
"“It’s the only problem that Raffy has defensively, because he has a good arm, a first step, he has range. It’s out conversion,” Cora said. “He will throw the ball away on a great play. In our numbers, he was average or above average in a lot of things, but below average in out conversion.”"
Devers showed off his improved “out conversion” several times against Detroit.
Devers made three plays in the series that exemplified tremendous footwork and an ability to get himself into a position to make an accurate throw, something that he has gotten lazy with in the past. One play can be seen by clicking play on the video above. One play involved him ranging to his left, spinning and throwing a strike across the diamond to first base. And one play was on a foul pop up where he gathered and threw across the diamond to double up the runner at first.
As Cora mentioned on The Baseball Hour, the arm strength is there. And maybe, just maybe, the accuracy now is too.