One Red Sox infielder is grabbing all of the headlines, while another has not gotten much time in the spotlight.
Rafael Devers was once a blue-chip prospect, one that Dave Dombrowski considered untouchable. He had an exciting start to his MLB career, mashing 10 home runs in 222 at-bats after being called up in July 2017. However, he was underwhelming in 2018, missing some time due to injury and finishing his year with an OBP under .300. His work in the field was equally disastrous, making 24 errors. Devers did show some of the potential that he was always known for though, hitting 21 home runs in 450 AB’s and batting .294 in the playoffs.
On a World Series roster loaded with talent, Devers was easily forgotten by fans and the media. Now, he is beginning to reclaim the attention that he once got. He is hitting .331 (as of May 13), which leads the American League, has an OBP of .402, and is slugging .468. The 22 year old even has 5 stolen bases, which already ties his career high in a season. He does have 9 errors though, which ranks second in the American League.
His batting average will lower, as he is hitting an unsustainable .378 on balls in play (the league average is .300). He will also begin to get his power stroke back as well. He has hit only three home runs so far this season, but that is mostly due to a slow month of April in which he hit none. Devers has displayed his power numerous times in his first two seasons and that is seemingly returning to him. Another encouraging sign of his improvement as a hitter is his ability to get on base. Having walked only 38 times last season, he has already drawn 18 walks in 2019 in around ⅓ of the plate appearances.
Michael Chavis has obtained the majority of the spotlight due to his power numbers and red-hot bat. He’s hitting .289, slugging .592, and has an OPS of .999. His seven home runs are the most noteworthy item, producing the national media coverage. Regardless, Rafael Devers’ bat may be more important, as of now.
Devers has always made lots of errors, and this season is no exception. He makes up for it with decent range, and has posted a defensive WAR of -0.1, essentially playing replacement level defense. He still has room to grow as well, and is the age of most rookies (and one year younger than Michael Chavis).
Rafael Devers has fixed the problems that plagued him last season. He has learned how to get on base, put his speed to use on the basepaths, and improved his defensive ability to a tolerable level. When Devers finishes up his career, people may look back at his 2019 campaign as the season he put it all together.