For the Boston Red Sox, third base has undeniably been the biggest problem for them all season. After Travis Shaw was traded away in December, the team has struggled to find consistent production at the hot corner.
Not even Pablo Sandoval—Mr. $95 million—could prove he was worth playing at third everyday, as he was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on July 14 in his third season of a five-year deal. Was pretty much paid $50 million to leave. Just imagine being that bad at your job.
However, Boston’s third base problem is all but solved now—and quite possibly long-term.
Meet Rafael Devers, the 20-year-old kid who’s done nothing but rake since his call-up on July 23. Prior to his Major League debut on July 25, the Red Sox had used eight different third basemen on the year. Since then? Unsurprisingly, no one but him.
Devers is the real deal, and it’s time we talked about him. First a little background information—he was signed in August 2013 by the Red Sox for $1.5 million when he was still just 16, considered to be the best available left-handed hitter on the international market.
How’s he doing four years later?
In nine Major League games, Devers is hitting .389 (14 for 36). That includes his uneventful 0 for 4 debut. Since then he’s hit in eight straight, collecting three homers, six RBIs, and eight runs scored in that span.
What’s also impressive is how each of his three homers haven’t been pulled. His first one was to dead center at Safeco Field in his second game, and his last two have come at Fenway Park into the Green Monster seats.
So what’s been historic about his very brief career?
Per ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter with credit to the Elias Sports Bureau, Devers is the first player in the modern era (since 1900) with at least 13 hits and three homers in his first eight games before turning 21; he will reach that age on October 24.
In addition, with his blast on July 26, Devers became the youngest player to go deep for the Red Sox in 52 years, at 20 years and 275 days old. In 1965, Tony Conigliaro was 20 years and 265 days old at the time of his first dinger—a mere ten days younger than Devers by comparison.
It’s pretty clear that Devers is pretty good at this whole baseball thing. After all, he was the #4 prospect in baseball prior to his debut, as well as Boston’s top prospect. Needless to say, he’s showing why at the Major League level. It’s truly been refreshing to watch.
Along with newcomer Eduardo Nunez who Boston received at the trade deadline, Devers has done nothing but produce for the Red Sox and give them a much needed offensive spark.
The Red Sox have won four straight games and lead the Yankees by three games in the AL East, and Devers has certainly contributed to that success. It’ll be fascinating to see how he performs down the stretch and into September as the pressure builds, as the Red Sox chase their second straight AL East title. Devers doesn’t seem fazed by any of it though.
This kid is special, and he’s on his way to a special career.