Rafael Devers, JD Martinez and the future at the corners

billy ashley

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Agreed with @bosox79 on Chavis. Allegedly, his defensive issues in the minors were related to lateral movement towards the left (per Sox Prospects). That's not as big of an issue at 2B. Especially with the greater emphasis on shifting. If Chavis were a passable 3B he'd have been on a ton of top 100 lists. He was only on 1 because no on knew where he'd play. He now has position; don't think he'll be great there, but I think he's fine.

Which is pretty much what Devers is at 3B. You take that type of offensive upside with averagish defense every time.

*Note I think that I think Devers still has significantly more offensive upside than Chavis. I think Chavis settles into Steve Pearce - which would be great as a 2B. Devers could be much more.
 

shaggydog2000

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Agreed with @bosox79 on Chavis. Allegedly, his defensive issues in the minors were related to lateral movement towards the left (per Sox Prospects). That's not as big of an issue at 2B. Especially with the greater emphasis on shifting. If Chavis were a passable 3B he'd have been on a ton of top 100 lists. He was only on 1 because no on knew where he'd play. He now has position; don't think he'll be great there, but I think he's fine.

Which is pretty much what Devers is at 3B. You take that type of offensive upside with averagish defense every time.

*Note I think that I think Devers still has significantly more offensive upside than Chavis. I think Chavis settles into Steve Pearce - which would be great as a 2B. Devers could be much more.
Agree with all of this. But also, I think it's interesting that now with the game dominated by strikeouts and flyballs, you can "hide" someone in the middle infield. I'm not saying you can be a butcher and play there, but the ramifications of putting an average or below fielder in those positions are not nearly as bad as they were 30 years ago. Or even 10. I think we're going to see higher offensive numbers out of those positions for a bit, not because of a change in talent of "natural" middle infielders, but due to lowering of the defensive talent level you need to play there leading to more bat-heavy players playing there. Until the league changes again, because it always does.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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Agree with all of this. But also, I think it's interesting that now with the game dominated by strikeouts and flyballs, you can "hide" someone in the middle infield. I'm not saying you can be a butcher and play there, but the ramifications of putting an average or below fielder in those positions are not nearly as bad as they were 30 years ago. Or even 10. I think we're going to see higher offensive numbers out of those positions for a bit, not because of a change in talent of "natural" middle infielders, but due to lowering of the defensive talent level you need to play there leading to more bat-heavy players playing there. Until the league changes again, because it always does.
Interesting hypothesis. It'll be interesting to see if this affects DD's pitcher acquisition strategy. There was a time when the Sox seemed to prioritize guys with high GB rates; that might not be a sensible approach any more, with the Sox featuring a bat heavy/glove light infield (except, oddly, at 1B).
 

TeddyBallgame9

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Interesting hypothesis. It'll be interesting to see if this affects DD's pitcher acquisition strategy. There was a time when the Sox seemed to prioritize guys with high GB rates; that might not be a sensible approach any more, with the Sox featuring a bat heavy/glove light infield (except, oddly, at 1B).
The launch angle revolution has certainly changed how pitchers try to get hitters out. If pitching to the top of the strike zone is the new normal, the defensive emphasis will switch from infield to outfield. Second Base could become the new left field.
 

dhappy42

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Agree with all of this. But also, I think it's interesting that now with the game dominated by strikeouts and flyballs, you can "hide" someone in the middle infield. I'm not saying you can be a butcher and play there, but the ramifications of putting an average or below fielder in those positions are not nearly as bad as they were 30 years ago. Or even 10. I think we're going to see higher offensive numbers out of those positions for a bit, not because of a change in talent of "natural" middle infielders, but due to lowering of the defensive talent level you need to play there leading to more bat-heavy players playing there. Until the league changes again, because it always does.
It’d be interesting to see a cost-benefit analysis of middle infielder hitting versus fielding. What’s the trade off of playing Babe Ruth at short. I suppose oWAR and dWAR would be a way to measure it, but I don’t think that’s an apples-apples thing.
 

EllisTheRimMan

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Interesting to go back to the first few posts in the thread.... all this stuff being discussed but at the time a little further off in the hypothetical.
Devers is quickly turning into a legit masher faster than I thought but there's still some holes in his swing and approach. I'm confident he'll close those long term but I wouldn't be surprised to see him either suddenly fall into a big slump or suddenly start K'ing or hacking choppy grounders..... I also, like I said in the thread starter post, be surprised to see him club a .950 OPS on the season.
He’s at .900 OPS today. Man, is he hitting everything hard and such an easy swing.
 

ledsox

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This kid is so fun to watch. What a sweet barehanded play on the slow roller today. The work is paying off. The throws have been so much better the last few weeks. And now he seems to be visualizing right at home plate and just mashing it seconds later. Love this kid.
 

Al Zarilla

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Nice piece by Joon Lee at ESPN.com on the maturation process of Devers:

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/26829032/rafael-devers-anticipated-breakout-happening-now
Nice article, thanks Don. As you’d expect, Xander had a lot to say about him (always seen together in the dugout). Article says Devers is picking up on the country music: has to be Mitch, right? Hope we can permanently add Devers to a list of guys whose performance we don’t worry much about, like, who, Mookie, JDM, maybe X? Short list. Get Beni on there too, hopefully.
 

benhogan

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how about batting Devers at clean up behind JD?

Mookie, AB, JD, Devers, X, Chavis, MM/SP, Vaz, JBJ

does Mook not like leading off?
 

bosox79

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I find it amusing that Devers leads the team in SB, SBA and CS. He's 7/10.
 

BJBossman

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Agree with all of this. But also, I think it's interesting that now with the game dominated by strikeouts and flyballs, you can "hide" someone in the middle infield. I'm not saying you can be a butcher and play there, but the ramifications of putting an average or below fielder in those positions are not nearly as bad as they were 30 years ago. Or even 10. I think we're going to see higher offensive numbers out of those positions for a bit, not because of a change in talent of "natural" middle infielders, but due to lowering of the defensive talent level you need to play there leading to more bat-heavy players playing there. Until the league changes again, because it always does.
You might be onto something already...

Didn't the dodgers just announced a college 1B as a 2B at the draft?
 

Marciano490

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I’m surprised there isn’t more love for Devers going on. Another homer and steal tonight, no errors since May 2 and an OPS ticking toward .900. Our little baby faced assassin is becoming a full grown man.
 

sean1562

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yea, Xander and Devers have been the best two players on this team. Considering the older of the 2 is just 26 and we have them both through at least 2023, there is a lot to be optimistic about the future of the heart of our order for the next few years
 

Imbricus

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Three Red Sox have similar OPS breakdowns right now: Bogaerts (.379, .535), Devers (.374, .513), Martinez (.370, .523). So we have three hitters with sort of a J.D. Martinez profile, though to be fair J.D. is not slugging at his usual rate.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Three Red Sox have similar OPS breakdowns right now: Bogaerts (.379, .535), Devers (.374, .513), Martinez (.370, .523). So we have three hitters with sort of a J.D. Martinez profile, though to be fair J.D. is not slugging at his usual rate.
Not to get too concerned about the future... but if the Sox can get Mookie signed (even if JD leaves), they'll still have a solid core to continue to compete for the future with Devers emerging as a star. If it's an either/or situation... Mookie is the priority. I don't think it would be with the amount of $ available after this season
 

Adrian's Dome

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They'll find money for Mookie, just depends how much.

'17 and '19 Mookie will get big bucks, but not quite the bucks '18 Mookie would. Which do the Sox think is the real guy, and will it affect their offer? Those are the real questions right now.

I don't think '18 Mookie is a realistic expectation any given season, but him any other year is still a top 10 player.
 

shaggydog2000

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I’m surprised there isn’t more love for Devers going on. Another homer and steal tonight, no errors since May 2 and an OPS ticking toward .900. Our little baby faced assassin is becoming a full grown man.
I can't figure out how to get this to embed, but the following link is Devers' ISO on a rolling 15 game sample. Over the first 30 games it just meanders around below .100. Since then it's shot up to the .350+ range. I don't know where it's going to settle in for the year, but he looks like such a dangerous hitter right now. His walk rate has dropped off, but he's tapped into major power without striking out much more than he had. I like this version, but still think he hasn't achieved his final form.

https://www.fangraphs.com/graphs.aspx?playerid=17350&position=3B&statArr=40&legend=1,2&split=base&time=game&ymin=&ymax=&start=2019&end=2019&rtype=single&gt1=15&dStatArray=
 

BaseballJones

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Going into today's game (which has featured a walk and a two-run single), in his last 35 games, he's hitting .344/.379/.616/.995 with 9 hr and 35 rbi. Plus, he hasn't made an error since like the beginning of May. So he's getting it done in every way.
 

shaggydog2000

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Going into today's game (which has featured a walk and a two-run single), in his last 35 games, he's hitting .344/.379/.616/.995 with 9 hr and 35 rbi. Plus, he hasn't made an error since like the beginning of May. So he's getting it done in every way.
His defense has definitely looked better, especially that footwork that has been talked about as his weak point.
 

Imbricus

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On a couple of plays last night, he looked like a Gold Glove third baseman. Because of his body shape, he's not that graceful though. He does have a really strong arm. Next game they're losing by 19 runs, they should have him pitch instead of Nunez.
 

patoaflac

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I would believe that after Canseco’s injury, no good manager would let a good player pitch. Nunez, JBJ or a AAAA player is fine, but not Devers.
 

nvalvo

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JDM left with back spasms again, which seems to happen a few days after each game he plays in the field.
 

Dewey'sCannon

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JDM left with back spasms again, which seems to happen a few days after each game he plays in the field.
Another good reason to keep him out of the OF. Now that Brock is back, I would hope that JD in the OF will happen less frequently. And with Travis also currently on the roster, that's another option if they want a RH bat instead of JBJ (or Holt).
 

azsoxpatsfan

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According to fangraphs, Devers has added more value on the base paths than any other third basemen in the league (3.3 BsR, second place is Jose Ramirez with 2.7). He’s fifth in MLB overall
 

DeadlySplitter

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Speier has a nice article up about Raffy's 458 ft bomb in the 10th yesterday. he also mentioned on the broadcast tonight it's the longest batted ball by a left-handed hitter to the opposite field in the Statcast era. we know Raffy has terrific power to all fields, and this shot was the culmination of it.

 

teddywingman

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He's in rare company for his age.

And regarding his defense, you could see last year how he made fundamental improvements, he just wasn't consistent with maintaining those skills. This year, he's doing it on a more consistent basis.

And yeah, it's all about the footwork with Devers, cause he's got a cannon and can flash serious leather at times.
 

Sam Ray Not

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OPS at the midway point:

.926 Bogaerts
.889 Devers
.880 Martinez
.859 Betts

Collect your prize if you had them in that order.
 

bosox79

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88 wins at halfway point without Betts JDM and Benintendi at full speed (and huge pitching issues) bodes well for the second half.
I think Ben10 is better/going to get better but it's possible this is as good as he is. He has a career OPS+ of 112 and is at 108. Granted he's 25 in 10 days so you'd expect improvement.
 

bosockboy

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I think Ben10 is better/going to get better but it's possible this is as good as he is. He has a career OPS+ of 112 and is at 108. Granted he's 25 in 10 days so you'd expect improvement.
If this is who he is, it’s Trot Nixon with less power. That’d be pretty disappointing.
 

sean1562

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What was the expectation of his ceiling? Right now he is a 3-4 WAR player. Were people thinking he was gonna be an MVP candidate? What player most resembles Benintendi's ceiling?
 

amRadio

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What was the expectation of his ceiling? Right now he is a 3-4 WAR player. Were people thinking he was gonna be an MVP candidate? What player most resembles Benintendi's ceiling?
This is going to be deeply unscientific so apologies in advance but he kind of reminds me of early career Dave Winfield. After looking it up, Winfield got his first full MLB season at 22 and slashed .272/.343/.436 through his age 25 season. 10D is 24 slashing .281/.359/.445 so far in his career and is a similarly excellent defensive corner outfielder who gets the occasional start in CF. He'll probably never reach the power numbers Winfield put out in his prime years. I always anticipated something along the career line he has now and I'm overall pretty happy with his production, personally. One iffy half while seemingly a bit banged up doesn't sway my opinion.
 

sean1562

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yea, from what i remember he was always kind of a high floor lower ceiling kind of prospect. I wouldnt be surprised if this is what he is, which is still a pretty valuable cost controlled asset. I think Devers is the guy on this team that can be the big star that will anchor this lineup and be the more important player. Xander keeping up this production is also a big boon for this team. Our problems this year seem to be with our pitching, ERod has been a disappointment
 

chawson

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This is going to be deeply unscientific so apologies in advance but he kind of reminds me of early career Dave Winfield. After looking it up, Winfield got his first full MLB season at 22 and slashed .272/.343/.436 through his age 25 season. 10D is 24 slashing .281/.359/.445 so far in his career and is a similarly excellent defensive corner outfielder who gets the occasional start in CF. He'll probably never reach the power numbers Winfield put out in his prime years. I always anticipated something along the career line he has now and I'm overall pretty happy with his production, personally. One iffy half while seemingly a bit banged up doesn't sway my opinion.
Those slash lines are indeed pretty similar, but the Dave Winfield of today's game is Aaron Judge. It's not Andrew Benintendi.

He's also been a bit more than more than an iffy half. He's been a league-average player since last year's all-star break, factoring in his subpar .268/.328/.339 postseason line. That's 663 PA at roughly a 100 RC+. He reminds me of the Phillies' Odubel Herrera or Kole Calhoun of the Angels, or a Kyle Seager at a less important defensive position. Good but not great players (and small ones without a ton of projectible power).

On the bright side, he's hitting the ball harder than last year. This has raised his exit velocity from well below average (2018) to slightly below average (2019), helped his fly ball distance to the opposite field and slightly improved his (still bad) numbers against lefties. On the other hand, swinging harder might have opened up a hole against offspeed pitches. He's whiffing a lot more and is wOBA against offspeed pitches has dropped from .406 last year to .235 this year.

I think he probably could have gotten us Yelich two years ago, but he's fine.
 

BaseballJones

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Rafael Devers since May 1:

.345/.374/.628 for a 1.002 OPS

162-game pace: 240 hits, 53 doubles, 44 HR, 154 R, 150 RBI
That's a pretty good two month stretch. Doubt he'll keep it up like this, but I wouldn't mind it if he does for a little longer!

Current MLB ranks for qualified 3b for Devers:

AVG: 1st (.329)
OBP: 6th (.378)
SLG: 3rd (.548)
OPS: 3rd (.926)
R: 1st (64)
H: 1st (107)
2b: 1st (25)
HR: 11th (14)
RBI: 4th (56)
WAR: 4th (3.2) - ESPN's WAR calculation (which I think is the same as bREF)

So basically, one of the top 3 third basemen in all of baseball to this point in the season. And he's just 22.
 

bosockboy

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Developing into a legit superstar rapidly.

Side discussion but wonder if this and having X locked up changes the calculus of having a bit more leverage on resigning Mookie.
 

donutogre

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Developing into a legit superstar rapidly.

Side discussion but wonder if this and having X locked up changes the calculus of having a bit more leverage on resigning Mookie.
Semi-related:

JBJ since May 1st: .287 / .393 / .532 for an OPS of .925, with 9 HR and 13 doubles. And that includes a couple weeks of still being mired in his slump. Obviously it might be too much to expect that he won't have another terrible, month-plus slump again because that's apparently what he does. But if he can keep it from being a complete disaster, he's a legit offensive weapon. I know, I know... probably too much ask, but he's so damn tantalizing.
 

BaseballJones

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I'm just loving the homegrown core of offensive players right now (even if they're not all streaking like Devers or JBJ at the moment):

Vazquez
Chavis
Bogaerts
Devers
Benintendi
Bradley
Betts

Heck, even Marco Hernandez is contributing.

Meanwhile, on the farm...

1b Casas (19, in A): .878 ops, 14 homers
3b Dalbec (24, in AA): .839 ops, 17 homers

Good power in the minors. Dalbec at this point might be a good trade chip. Will stink to see him hit 25+ homers a year for some MLB club other than Boston, but he probably could fetch a nice power arm in the bullpen or a veteran 5th starter that might be sorely needed (since Eovaldi is going to be in the bullpen). I'm not *wanting* to trade Dalbec...but it might be the best use of that resource.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Semi-related:

JBJ since May 1st: .287 / .393 / .532 for an OPS of .925, with 9 HR and 13 doubles. And that includes a couple weeks of still being mired in his slump. Obviously it might be too much to expect that he won't have another terrible, month-plus slump again because that's apparently what he does. But if he can keep it from being a complete disaster, he's a legit offensive weapon. I know, I know... probably too much ask, but he's so damn tantalizing.
The funny part is that this season has been a perfect microcosm not only of his streakiness but also of his overall performance. Which of these lines is for Jackie's 2019, and which is for his career?

.239/.338/.413, 95 wRC+, 10.6 BB%, 24.8 K%, .301 BABIP, .174 ISO, 14.5% HR/9
.238/.320/.407, 92 wRC+, 9.2 BB%, 25.0 K%, .298 BABIP, .169 ISO, 13.0% HR/9

This really is who he is. It's just easy to miss because he oscillates so violently, over such long periods, around this level. He's kind of like an opera singer with such a big vibrato it's hard to tell what pitch he's singing.