As Rafael Devers continues his already-impressive career, he will strive to emulate one of Major League Baseball’s greatest hitters of all time.
When Albert Pujols joined the 700 Home Run Club this season, the achievement itself and the longevity required to reach it inspired the Boston Red Sox wunderkind to think about his own career. Speaking to the Boston Globe (subscription required), Devers praised Pujols and revealed how watching the veteran slugger make history got him thinking about his future:
"“That’s where everybody wants to be. Everybody wants to keep growing throughout the years. That’s something that is in my mind. I don’t only think about today but also think about the future and how I can prepare for the future to be a better player and a better person.”"
In other words, he wants to play for a long time and hit a lot of homers. No complaints on either front, as long as he’s doing so as a member of the Sox.
Devers just completed his sixth year in the majors and hit .295/.358/.521 despite a nagging hamstring injury. He reduced his strikeout percentage dramatically and hit more doubles in fewer games than last year, but like many hitters, collected fewer homers, in part due to the deadened baseball.
In 689 career regular-season games, Devers has collected 139 home runs. Pujols hit 703 homers over 3,080 regular-season games across 22 seasons. Could Devers join him as the second Latino member of the 700 Club? Through the first six seasons of his career, Devers is homering at a 4.7% clip, while Pujols homered in 5.4% of his regular-season plate appearances. He debuted a year younger than Pujols, but would still need to play thousands of games to reach him.
Still, he’s already well on his way and has already joined Pujols in the record books:
June 2021: Devers becomes the fourth Dominican player to reach 90 career HR and 500 hits before turning 25, joining Pujols, Adrián Beltré, and César Cedeño.
2021 ALCS: Devers’ eighth career postseason home run ties Pujols, Mickey Mantle, and Carlos Correa for the most postseason round-trippers before turning 25.
June 2022: Devers joins Pujols and Alex Rodriguez as the only Dominican players in MLB history to collect 400 RBI, 400 runs, and 300 extra-base hits in their first 607 career games.
September 2022: Devers moves into third on the list of most home runs by a Dominican-born player before turning 26, behind Pujols and Beltré
Pujols is set to retire whenever the St. Louis Cardinals’ postseason run ends, but Devers has a long and hopefully successful career ahead of him. Whether he joins Pujols in the 700 Club or not, he’s already making history in his own way.
Maybe one day, they’ll be together in the Baseball Hall of Fame.