Despite being a wild comparison, the Red Sox young star and the future Hall of Fame 3B have plenty in common.
It is often easy to compare players who play similar positions, especially when you have analysts cherry picking stats, sizes, etc. However, when one of those players is a future Hall of Famer, it should mean a little more than being compared to your “average Joe.” I have been comparing our young guy, Rafael Devers, to future Hall of Famer player Adrian Beltre. Forget the fact that they both play third base, forget they are both from the Dominican Republic, forget Raffy is 6 foot, 230 lbs and Beltre is 5’11”, 220 lbs – that is the easy stuff.
A lot of players fit those qualifications, but let’s dive a little deeper into the stats of their early careers.
Devers first full season in the majors came when he was 21 years old, playing in a total of 121 games, whereas Beltre was 20 years old, playing in a total of 152 games. However, despite playing in 31 LESS games, and having close to 50 FEWER plate appearances, Rafael Devers beat Beltre in home runs (21 to 15) and slugging percentage (.433 to .428). When it came to RBIs, Beltre led 67 to Devers’ 66. Doubles were 27 to 24. Where Devers power shows to be just about equal to a young Adrian Beltre, his plate discipline is not. He struck 16 more times and walked a whopping 23 times less.
This should come to no surprised to those who followed Devers closely last year. It was obvious to even me, an average fan, that the pitch to end Devers was the high fastball. He. Swung. So. Many. Damn. Times. However, there is plenty of hope. As Red Sox fans, we are lucky to have such a developed young player like Devers, but even luckier that he is surrounded and being mentored by people like David Ortiz, Alex Cora, and J.D. Martinez. I am expecting a decent increase in his numbers this year, assuming he can stay healthy and get similar playing time.
Now if there was one obious flaw in Devers game, it was fielding and the amount of errors he committed. Now again, if you watched closely, Devers actually made some great plays defensively, but a lot of bone-headed plays too. Surely, Adrian Beltre, a 5-time Gold Glover and 2-time Platinum Glove award winner, never struggled as much as Devers did? False.
In the same year we compared batting statistics, Devers committed a total of 24 errors where Beltre committed 29! Beltre did turn 10 more double plays and had 29 more assists that year but you get my point. We have to give Devers some more time to develop but I am sure the way we would laugh about considering Devers a great defensive player at the end of his career, is the same way critics were laughing at Beltre when he was young.
Hopefully, by now, it is obvious on why I choose to compare Rafael Devers to Adrian Beltre, and I think any Red Sox fan would be ecstatic if Devers career turn into anything like Beltre’s. But let’s remember, this is just one year. If anything, we should look at Devers to become more disciplined at the plate, and slow down and make better throws while on defense.
Becoming a great player is a process, and with the support cast Devers has behind him, the sky is the limit on what he can become.