Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers joins Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice in elite club
Not only did Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers become the first player to reach 100 RBI in 2019, but he also joined an elite group in the process.
After Devers homered in the seventh inning of Boston’s 13-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, he joined Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice as the only players in Red Sox history to record 100+ RBI in a season before the age of 23:
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) August 18, 2019
Devers also became the first player (from any franchise) since Miguel Cabrera to reach 100+ RBI and 100+ runs scored in a single season before that age. Cabrera accomplished the feat as member of the Florida Marlins in 2005.
Although the Red Sox have had one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, Devers has had an MVP-level season. Devers leads the Red Sox in batting average, hits, doubles, RBI, slugging, and OPS, and he ranks seventh among position players in fWAR.
Trying to explain Devers’ success is somewhat difficult. Despite notable increases in his chase rate and overall swing rate, Devers’ contact percentage has risen significantly along with his average exit velocity and line-drive percentage. In fact, Devers ranks fifth in the MLB with a 92.8 average exit velocity, according to MLB Statcast.
Devers has bought into his pull power while still spreading the ball to all fields, and his plate coverage has been tremendous. He is also not getting beat by fastballs this season, hitting over 100 points higher (.333) against heaters.
Aside from a prolific offensive season, Devers has made massive strides at the hot corner. His Ultimate Zone Rating has gone from -4.5 in 2018 to 1.5 so far this year, according to FanGraphs.
Boston might not make the playoffs, but Devers deserves to be applauded as he continues to make Red Sox history.