The 2019 Boston Red Sox left nearly everything to be desired for fans, but there were some bright spots hidden amidst the dark and lonely sea of mediocrity. The shiniest of them all came in the form of a 22-year old third basemen with the energy of a rambunctious 12-year old: Rafael Devers.
Devers can be seen doing hilarious things on the field between his occasional licking of bats, his new in-the-box routine of a heavy deep breathe before shaking his head and zoning in or when he thwaps himself in the head after missing a pitch he thinks he should have mashed.
Then Devers turn rights around and does things like video-bombing Mookie Betts in the clubhouse. He is a walking highlight reel of goofiness and joy, which is exactly what fans need in today’s game.
This season Devers has quickly become my favorite player to watch and not just because of his personality. He has thrown up numbers this season. He has broken out and put the world on notice of his talent.
The Dominican Republic native has simply gone off this season. He is slashing .308/.359/.550 through 151 games with 31 home runs and 113 RBI. Devers has been a force in the two-hole for this Boston offense.
He has slightly declined over the past month, but he has also never played this many games in a season. It also could be due to a lack of team success as well, as they have won just eight of their last 20 games, and they have scored four or less runs in 11 of those 20 games.
Not only has he been a consistent menace for opposing pitchers, he has overhauled his defensive game as well. He has been impressive on the other side of the ball for his standards, improving his fielding percentage by 21 points compared to last year. In 27% more games, Devers has made two less errors than last season. He is no Nolan Arenado, but he is improving where he needs to at a young age.
Considering Devers’ middling performance last season, his step up was incredibly important for the future of this franchise. Despite winning the 2018 World Series, Devers did not particularly perform last season. He hit just .240 with 21 home runs and 66 RBI with a .731 OPS through 121 games.
Devers showed the front office this year he can be the key cog in the lineup, which is immeasurably good for Boston. They are due to potentially lose Betts and J.D. Martinez this off-season, who account for a combined 9.9 bWAR this season.
Betts is due to be a free agent in 2021 and there have been reports that he may get moved before the start of the 2020 season, which makes sense from an organizational standpoint if they believe they cannot resign him. Martinez has an opt-out after this season and could return to free agency after putting up monster numbers the past two seasons.
Contractually, Devers is under team control through 2024, which could be when the team is back in contention or when they are entering a full re-build. The team could try to lock him up like they did Xander Bogaerts this past off-season, who signed a six-year, $120 million contract extension with an opt-out after 2022.
Most importantly, he will be here for the change of direction of the franchise and give fans something to look forward to watching every game. This team is about to potentially lose two face-of-the-franchise level talents, but they have more waiting in the wings. Rafael Devers is going to be a special player, now it is his team to demonstrate it.
Mike Mavredakis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org