Rafael Devers

From BR Bullpen

Rafael Calcano Devers

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 195 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Infielder Rafael Devers was signed by the Boston Red Sox as a 17-year-old before the 2014 season. He started off his career with the DSL Red Sox, where he hit .337 in 28 games to earn a promotion to the GCL Red Sox. There, he continued to hit, batting .312 in 32 games. Overall, he played 70 games that first season, with a batting line of .322/.404/.506, with 17 doubles, 5 triples and 7 homers to establish himself as a player to watch.

In 2015, he played full-season ball with the Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League where in spite of being three and half years younger than the average player in the circuit, he batted .288/.329/.443, with 38 doubles and 11 homers, scoring 71 runs and driving in 70. He was selected to play in the 2015 Futures Game. That winter and the following one, he lined up with the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican League, playing against much older competition and holding his own in limited playing time. In 2016, he moved up to the Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League and hit .282/.335/.443 in 128 games. He had 32 doubles and 11 homers, pretty much reproducing his power numbers from the year before, but also added 8 triples after hitting only one. By now he was considered the #1 prospect in the Red Sox system, and as a third baseman, also had the benefit of playing a position where the major league team was in need.

He began 2017 with the Portland Sea Dogs of the AA Eastern League and was added to the World team for the 2017 Futures Game on July 9th at Marlins Park. He started the game at third base while batting clean-up; he was the only player on his team to get a hit off Larry Doby Award-winner Brent Honeywell as he went 1 for 4. On July 23d, the Red Sox announced that he was being called up to make his major league debut. He had just been promoted to the Pawtucket Red Sox where he had hit .368 in his first 10 games, after hitting .300 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 77 games at Portland. The plans was to have him become the starting third baseman, as various other options had been found wanting: Pablo Sandoval had just been released, Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero had failed to hit much when given the opportunity to start, and Brock Holt was just back from a long stay on the disabled list, but the Sox wanted to use him in his familiar role of Utility player and not as a full-time third baseman. The Red Sox did not go out completely on a limb, as two days later they traded with the San Francisco Giants to acquire veteran 3B Eduardo Nunez as an insurance policy in case devers was not up to the task of starting in the major leagues. He made his big league debut that same day, July 25th, starting at third base in a game against the Seattle Mariners, going 0 for 4 with two walks and a runs scored in a 6-5, 13-inning loss. In his second game the next day, he became the youngest Red Sox player to hit a home run since Tony Conigliaro in 1964 when he connected off Andrew Moore in a 4-0 win over Seattle. On July 31st, he a 4-for-4 day in a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. On August 13th, he stunned Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees with a 9th-inning home run to tie the game, allowing Boston to win in the 10th and increase its lead to 5 1/2 games. He ended up hitting .284 in 58 games with 10 homers and 30 RBIs. He continued to do well in the Division Series which Boston lost to the Houston Astros, going 4 for 11 with 2 homers and 5 RBIs.

He had a bit of a disappointing season in 2018, finishing the year at .240 with an OBP of .298 in 121 games. Still, he hit 24 doubles and 21 homers, and the Red Sox had a great season, winning 108 games. He was a solid contributor in the postseason, however, as the Red Sox breezed through to win the World Series in five games against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was at his best in the ALCS against the Astros when he was 5 for 14 with a homer, 4 runs and 6 RBIs. In 2019, he was looking very much like a budding superstar in the early going, as he won American League Player of the Month honors in May when he hit .351 with 8 homers and 24 RBIs in 26 games. At the end of June, he was hitting .322 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs but was still not retained for the All-Star team, which was mainly a reflection of the strength of his competition at third base. Undaunted, he had a great game in his first game in July, hitting a pair of homers and driving 6 runs in a 10-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. On August 13th, he did something unprecedented as he collected 6 hits including 4 doubles in a 7-6, 10-inning win over the Cleveland Indians. He had 43 doubles on the season, leading the AL.

During the 60-game shortened regular season in 2020, Devers was again Boston's primary third baseman. Overall, he batted .263 with 11 home runs and 43 RBIs in 57 games. He led all major league players (including all AL third basemen) in errors with 14, more than twice as many as any other AL third baseman, and had the lowest fielding percentage, .891, of all major league third basemen. On January 15, 2021, Devers and the Red Sox reached agreement on a $4.575 million one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Devers returned as Boston's primary third baseman, and on was voted by fans as the AL starter at that position for the 2021 All-Star Game. He had an excellent season overall, batting .279 in 156 games, with 38 homers and 113 RBIs for an OPS+ of 134. He finished 1th in the voting for the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player Award and won the Silver Slugger Award as the AL's best-hitting third baseman for the first time. In the postseason, he went 1 for 4 and scored twice as the Red Sox defeated their nemesis the New York Yankees in the Wild Card Game, then went 6 for 18 with 2 homers as they disposed of the Tampa Bay Rays in the Division Series. He then hit a grand slam off Jake Odorizzi of the Houston Astros in the 2nd inning of Game 2 of the ALCS on October 16th, Boston's second of the game as J.D. Martinez had hit one off Luis Garcia in the 1st. The red Sox won that game, 9-5, and Game 3 as well, in which Rafael homered again, but lost the series in six games in spite of his going 7 for 24 with 3 homers and 6 RBIs.

In 2022, he had another productive season as he hit .295 with 27 homers and 88 RBIs in 141 games for an OPS+ of 141. He repeated as a member of the All-Star team and was 14th in the MVP vote. The big difference was that as a team, the Red Sox played poorly and ended up in last place in the AL East. After the season, long-time SS Xander Bogaerts left to sign a huge free agent contract with the San Diego Padres, extending into his age 40 season, as risk that the Red Sox were clearly not willing to take. With their fans grumbling about their unwillingness to make moves to strengthen the team, news came out on January 4, 2023 that they were on the verge of signing Devers to an extension in the same ballpark as the contract signed by Bogaerts, with the numbers thrown around being 11 years and $331 million. The big difference with Bogaerts was that Devers had just completed his age 25 season, and that there was thus some hope that he would still be a useful player for the final couple of years of the deal, something that would take a miracle for Bogaerts to achieve. This came one day after he and the team had agreed on a $17.5 million contract for 2023, thus avoiding salary arbitration and would be the largest deal in team history.

He is a cousin of José Devers.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2017 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 2-time AL All-Star (2021 & 2022)
  • 2-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2021 & 2023)
  • AL Total Bases Leader (2019)
  • AL Doubles Leader (2019)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2018, 2019 & 2021-2023)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2019, 2021 & 2023)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 3 (2019, 2021 & 2023)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (2019 & 2021)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (2019)
  • Won one World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2018

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ian Browne: "'He's a little kid': Joyful Devers aiming higher: Slugger sets even loftier goals after breakout 2019 season", mlb.com, February 28, 2020. [1]
  • Ian Browne: "'In better shape,' Devers focused on defense: Red Sox third baseman looking to be a strong fielder in 2021 season", mlb.com, February 24, 2021. [2]
  • Ian Browne: "Devers near 11-year, $331M extension with Red Sox", mlb.com, January 4, 2023. [3]

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