The 24-year-old is having the best all-around season of his career, and he deserves a lot of praise for how far he has come.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 24, 2021
Devers has always shown flashes of superstar potential at the MLB level, but up until this season, he was never able to put it all together.
That narrative is now dead.
In 2021, Devers is arguably the best hitter on a Red Sox team that prides itself in scoring runs.
He has also polished off some other elements of his game that were once concerns.
Today, we’re going to break down his standout season.
He Has Gone From A Poor Defender To A Fine Defender
Devers is far from an elite defensive third baseman, but he sure has come a long way.
When Devers first broke into the big leagues, his defensive abilities were a major concern.
He posted a -0.4 defensive WAR and a -4.6 Ultimate Zone Rating in 2017, then he posted a -0.7 defensive WAR and a -4.5 Ultimate Zone Rating in 2018.
He was one of the worst third basemen in the league in those categories.
He showed signs of growth in the 2019 season, but in 2020, he regressed.
This season, however, he looks extremely solid at the hot corner.
The 24-year-old has a positive defensive WAR of 0.1 and an Ultimate Zone Rating of 1.3.
For both of those stats, merely being above 0.0 means you’re doing your job.
He still has a long way to go, but it looks like he’s improving quickly.
The Red Sox have to be thrilled with his progress.
Offensively, He’s Producing At An MVP-Caliber Rate, And He Has Remained Consistent All Year
Devers opened his 2021 campaign with a little 0-for-13 skid.
He was hitless over the first three games of the season.
But since then, he hasn’t been held hitless in any more than two consecutive games at any point.
The youngster has been able to avoid slumps, and that has been a major key in his success at the plate.
Overall, Devers is batting .286 with a .944 OPS and a 149 OPS+.
He has homered 27 times, doubled 28 times, and he leads the American League with 82 runs driven in.
Most RBI's in the AL since Raffy made his MLB debut at 20 YO – (July 25, 2017)
1. Jose Abreu – 377
2. RAFAEL DEVERS – 335
That is insanepic.twitter.com/QtQUSsLCIm
— Boston Sports Info (@bostonsportsinf) July 27, 2021
With a WAR of 3.7 (which is good for a 6.1 pace), Devers is no doubt going to receive votes in the MVP race.
The award will ultimately go to Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani, but Devers will pop up on a lot of ballots.
It has been a pleasure for Red Sox fans to witness Devers’ growth.
From an unpolished talent to a borderline superstar, he has come a very long way.
Boston is going to be a major factor in the title race this season, and Devers is surely hoping to make some noise along the way.
The young star already has one World Series ring to his name from the 2018 season, but he would love to add another one to his collection.
The Red Sox currently lead the American League East with a 63-40 record.