Jamie Gatlin | July 19th, 2019
When the Red Sox won the World Series last year, they were led by stars Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, and J.D. Martinez. Even with their success, young players like Rafael Devers were inconsistent. This season, that has been a different story as Devers and Xander Bogaerts have emerged as a deadly duo. The young infielders have led the Red Sox offense which is currently one of the best in baseball.
Bogaerts came into this season with high expectations after agreeing to a six-year contract extension. It was well deserved as he was coming off his best season in the majors. Through 90 games, however, it seems like last year may have just been the beginning.
Last season, Bogaerts hit 23 home runs and had 103 runs batted in. So far this year, he has 21 home runs, and 74 runs batted in. He already has 31 doubles after recording 45 last season. The twenty-six-year-old shortstop has become the leader of the Red Sox offense in a lineup full of talent.
Although Bogaerts has been a force offensively, Devers has been just as impressive. After struggling last year, he has arguably become the most under-appreciated player in baseball. Devers has already set a career-high in runs batted in with 70 and is only three home runs short of tying his career high.
Unlike last year Devers has hit for average and not relied on his power. The former top prospect has been more aggressive at the plate and made hard contact at an increased rate. After hitting just .227 against fastballs last year, he is hitting .328 against them this season. The most impressive part of his game, however, has been his improvement defensively.
Additionally, Devers was one of the worst at his position defensively last year. He committed twenty-four errors and had a fielding percentage of .926. This year he has improved tremendously as his defensive rating currently is 1.7. Devers is no longer making the mental mistakes that he did last season and looks more confident.
Without these two the Red Sox would be much farther out of the playoff picture. They have both been a force at the plate and are the Red Sox top two players offensively. As the Red Sox look to secure a playoff spot, they will need their young infielders to stay hot.
While their performance may come as a surprise to some, for the Red Sox it does not. Although Devers struggled last year, the expectations were higher after his brief debut in 2017. He needed to cut down on his strikeout rate, which is down nine percent from last season.
For Bogaerts this is only a continuation of last season. He is currently one of the best shortstops in baseball and has the second-highest WAR in the American League. Although Bogaerts is not viewed as being above average defensively his bat makes him elite. With Devers and Bogaerts both under contract for the foreseeable future, this duo’s run is just beginning.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images