Time to start viewing Rafael Devers in a different light


The Twitter poll was, to be kind, polarizing.

Plenty of people were offended that such a question would be even asked.

But there it was, 9,949 votes later ...

Would you trade Rafael Devers for Vlad Guerrero Jr. right now?

— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) May 23, 2019

The idea that Rafael Devers come away from the Red Sox' four-game series at Rogers Centre being mentioned in the same breath as the be-all and end-all when it comes to Blue Jays baseball these days, Vlad Guerrero Jr., was unimaginable to some. But putting a microscope on each third baseman throughout the teams' meetings and it became clear we might want to rethink what the Sox have.

The hype machine for Devers has been up and down, to be kind. But where the 22-year-old has landed should change the conversation.

This guy has become really, really good. All-Star-level good.

If Devers continues down this road there is a very good chance he finds himself celebrating the All-Star break in Cleveland. The likelihood is that Houston's Alex Bregman is going to get the starting nod, but after that the Red Sox' third baseman is certainly firmly entrenched in the mix. His .321 batting average is a separator, with chief competitors Matt Chapman (.262) and Yoan Moncada (.279) lagging behind. Devers' .877 OPS is also slightly better than that duo, as well.

The Yankees' Gio Urshela is making a push (.348 batting average, .889 OPS) but has about 100 fewer plate appearances than Devers. The Sox' youngster has some catching up to do when it comes to home run (6) but considering he is coming off a series that included three homers in four games there is a thought we might be on the verge of a significant power surge.

"It's not my goal. I just want to play my best baseball and God-willing stay healthy," he said of the idea of becoming an All-Star. "That's my only goal, to be consistent on an everyday basis."

All-Star nod or no, it is becoming clearer that Devers' all-around game is emerging into something we hadn't seen on a consistent basis.

Time after time at Rogers Centre he made the play at third base. Easy. Moderately challenging. Downright difficult. There wasn't the kind of hiccup we had seen so many times. We have now gone since May 2 since there was an error charged to Devers. Considering how the season started that's saying something.

"It's an area that I've been working on," he said. "I have to be a complete player."

At the plate Devers has seemingly figured things out more than ever, opening his stance slightly while executing an educated approach to every at-bat. (See the process leading up to his double on an 0-2 pitch Thursday as a primary example. "It's something I do just to slow everything down," he explained. "It just relaxes me. It's a more consistent part of my game.")

When started asking if Devers about this possibly being J.D. Martinez influence, Moreland joked: 'It's not a J.D. thing, it's a Raffy thing.' Teammates note what he does with his hands - pressing down - when taking breaths. https://t.co/G6B8eS6XJc

— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) May 23, 2019

There is also the weight loss, which has been noticeable and signficant.

Devers has another opportunity to go against the best in this series against the Astros the next three days, with Bregman replacing Guerrero Jr. as the Sox' slugger's third base counterpart. But as we were reminded with those games in Toronto it's now at least a discussion worth having.

"It was a fun four days," Devers said. "But I'm just enjoying this as much as the first day I got to the big leagues."

....and twins pic.twitter.com/aj1X4wamq9

— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) May 24, 2019

.@MLB leaders in batted balls with an exit velocity of 95+ MPH:1. @RedSox Rafael Devers (83)2. Josh Bell (81)3. José Abreu (77)4. Cody Bellinger (76)T-5. DJ LeMahieu, Tommy Pham (74)

— Kyle Montemagno (@KyleMontemagno) May 24, 2019