Rafael Devers
Rafael Devers has become a superstar (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

It’s August 13th, 2017 and Rafael Devers is at the dish. The crowd at Yankee stadium is going crazy as Aroldis Chapman is trying to close out the save. Devers eventually hit a 103 MPH fastball out of the park in dead centerfield. The 20-year-old third baseman had put his stamp on the big leagues. Devers had a down year in 2018 but has since broken out in a big way in 2019. Devers isn’t just one of the best third basemen in baseball, he’s one of the best players too.

The Red Sox are loaded but Rafael Devers has been the team MVP thus far. Boston’s hot corner man is a 2.1 WAR player already and touts a batting line of .329/.389/.512. The long anticipated breakout is finally here. Devers first big improvement has been controlling the strike zone. In 2018, Raffy struck out 24 percent of the time. That number is down to 15 percent in 2019. How do you increase a .240 average? It starts by swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone. His OBP of .298 was flat out unacceptable last year. Raffy looks like a real big league hitter now. He’s done exactly that. It’s not something that we should be super shocked about. For such a young player playing at the highest level, controlling the strike zone just came with more experience.

Another noticeable improvement from Devers is something that happened behind the scenes. Raffy has been taking his body seriously hiring a nutritionist and eating less junk. He’s cut Chipotle largely out of his diet. The change has been noticeable. Devers has been lighter on his feet He is grading out as a positive fielder in 2019 after leading baseball in errors in 2018. He has not made an error since May 2nd. That’s a big leap. Devers also has 7 steals which is an impressive number this early in the season for a big third baseman. It just goes to show how hard he’s worked.

I have been watching a lot of baseball this year. Nobody is more fun to watch right now than Devers. Imagine what you were doing at 22? Devers is just hitting bullets constantly. During a 9 game hit streak, the numbers do not lie – .415 AVG (17/41) .429 OBP .829 SLG 1.258 OPS 4 HR 9 RBI 3 2B 1 3B 10 R. Raffy also has an extra-base hit in 8 straight games. Nobody that young has ever done that in a Red Sox uniform except for Ted Williams.

Alex Cora deserves a ton of credit for the development of his third baseman. Devers went from a goofy teenager to a superstar. His demeanor his awesome to watch. A plate appearance for Devers includes a few head slaps, deep breaths, and then a laser within a minute stretch. This season, Raffy ranks second in the AL in hits (69) and third in batting average (.329). He’s not just one of the best hot cornermen, he’s one of the best players in the sport at 22 years of age.

The Red Sox are poised to make a run back to the playoffs. The Sox are the defending champs but if they want to repeat, it’s Devers who may be the guy who carries them.