August 14, 2019

Rafael Devers's Historic Season (His OPS Is 216 Points Higher Than Last Season)

Rafael Devers's improvement as a hitter this season has been remarkable. After a lackluster 2018 campaign, he has raised his batting average 85 points, his on-base percentage 75 points, and his slugging percentage by 141 points.
2018: .240/.298/.433  - .731 OPS
2019: .325/.373/.574  - .947 OPS
Devers currently leads the major leagues in hits (158), doubles (43), and total bases (279). He leads the American League in RBI (93). He should finish very high in the voting for AL MVP, but may not for the dumbest of reasons: the Red Sox will not make the postseason. Devers will likely be punished because his teammates are not as good as he is.

Devers is the first Red Sox player (age 22 or younger) to hit at least 23 home runs in a season since 1966. In July, he became the youngest Red Sox player since Ted Williams to have 30 RBI in a single month.

Zach Cram, The Ringer (August 6, 2019):
Devers has struck out 45 fewer times this year than last, and he's recorded 43 more hard-hit balls (defined by Baseball Savant as leaving the bat with an exit velocity of 95 mph or more). In other words, Devers has effectively traded a third of his strikeouts for the best kind of contact ...

No other hitter has cut his K rate from last season by as drastic a margin as Devers, who struck out in 24.7 percent of his plate appearances in 2018 (and 23.8 percent in his introductory half-season in 2017) but is at just 15.5 percent this year. Cody Bellinger has parlayed the same trick—he ranks third on that list—into MVP front-runner status, and while Devers hasn't gone quite that far, his newfound strikeout stinginess has simultaneously subtracted the worst results from his ledger while allowing more opportunity for his best.

When Devers hits the ball, it goes a long way, very quickly; he ranks 10th in the majors in average exit velocity, among a horde of other hot hitters.
Devers is one of six players in American League history (age 22 or younger) to have 40+ doubles, 20+ home runs, and 90+ RBI in a season:
Hal Trosky       - 1934
Joe DiMaggio     - 1936
Ted Williams     - 1939
Ted Williams     - 1940
Cal Ripken, Jr.  - 1983
Ken Griffey, Jr. - 1991
Rafael Devers    - 2019
Most Extra-base Hits By A Red Sox Player In A Season (age 22 or younger)
1. Ted Williams  - 1939 -  86
2. Ted Williams  - 1940 -  80
3. Ted Williams  - 1941 -  73
4. Rafael Devers - 2019 -  69
4. Bobby Doerr   - 1940 -  69
Players Since 1950 To Lead Their League In Hits (age 22 or younger)
Harvey Kuenn    - 1953
Al Kaline       - 1955
Hank Aaron      - 1956
Vada Pinson     - 1961
George Brett    - 1975
Cal Ripken      - 1983
Alex Rodriguez  - 1998
Starlin Castro  - 2011
Devers leads the majors (by a wide margin) in batted balls with an exit velocity of 95+ mph (197, 19 more than D.J. LeMahieu). Five of his six hits last night rocketed off his bat at more than 100 mph:
1st inning double:  106.7
3rd inning single:  105.5
5th inning double:   90.3
6th inning double:  103.3
8th inning single:  108.8
10th inning double: 110.4
Devers had his first career six-hit game last night - and is the first player to have six hits and four doubles in the modern era (since 1900). He is also the 12th player since 1908 to have four of his six hits go for extra-bases.

He is the fifth Red Sox player with six hits in a game, joining Pete Runnels (August 30, 1960 (G1)), Jimmy Piersall (June 10, 1953 (G1)), Jerry Remy (September 3, 1981), and Nomar Garciaparra (June 21, 2003). (Note: Only Piersall did it in a nine-inning game.)


FenFan said...

It's hard to believe that his WAR last season was 0.0!

Even better, he isn't free agent eligible until 2024, although the Sox should consider giving him a pay raise sooner than later (he's making just $614.5K this season).

Paul Hickman said...

It will be interesting to revisit this in 6 weeks, can he "maintain the rage" !!!!!

Dr. Jeff said...

Small nitpick: it's Vada Pinson. I think I remembered this from an old baseball card.