The Red Sox have a lot of problems, but young talent certainly isn’t one of them; Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis have been absolutely ferocious this season. Yesterday, MLB announced that Devers is the American League Player of the Month for May, and Chavis is American League Rookie of the Month. These are two players with boundless potential, already making an enormous impact on this team.
It will probably always feel like Devers is the baby of the family – his teammates look at him like a little brother, Cora is a mixture of manager and father-figure – but in fact, he is already in his third season in the Majors. He was brought up mid-2017 when former Sox manager John Farrell realized that the Sox needed offense and a third baseman after Pablo Sandoval was banned from the city. In his first season with the Sox, he got off to a hot start. And in that short postseason run, he was the only Sox batter to do anything offensively, going 4-for-11 with 5 RBIs and 2 home runs, including becoming the youngest Red Sox hitter to homer in a postseason game, and the youngest player in MLB history to hit an inside-the-park home run in a postseason game.
Last season, he hit 21 home runs in the regular season, but also spent a fair amount of the season leading the league in errors, due to a combination of youthful, reckless enthusiasm and lack of time in the minors honing his defensive skill. At times, it was like watching a puppy attempt to play baseball. But when it came time to buckle down, Devers did just that: in his second postseason, he hit .295 over the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series, with a total of 9 RBIs and a home run, and at least two hits in each of the three series. And his home run? A 3-run bomb off Astros ace Justin Verlander.
But Raffy got off to a slow start this season: all errors, no offense. As late as the first week in May, he had zero home runs and a lower-than-ideal batting average for someone with his talent and raw power. Suddenly, as if school had let out for the summer for the child prodigy, he exploded in May. Since April 23, he’s slashing .342/.381/.584 with 29 runs and 30 RBIs. In the American League, his batting average is highest over that time, and he’s third in slugging percentage and RBIs. All 8 of his home runs this season have come between May 3-31, including homers in three consecutive games against Toronto in the middle of the month. He hasn’t made an error since May 2nd.
And Michael Chavis is something of a wunderkind. After all, he just won Rookie of the Month for his first month in the big leagues. In his debut as a pinch-hitter on April 20, he came through with a double that put runners in scoring position, enabling Andrew Benintendi to drive in crucial runs to help the Red Sox sweep the Rays. Since then, Chavis has already achieved multiple rookie milestones in an incredible short time, including a two-homer game, homered in back-to-back games, and last night, hit his first career triple. His first home run came days later at Fenway, with an exit velocity of 110.2 mph and a projected distance of 441 ft, at the time, the farthest-hit homer by a Sox batter this season. And despite never having played second base before making his major league debut, he’s proven to be incredibly skilled defensively. Like Devers, he’s made a lot of difficult plays look easy, and it must be assumed that they’ll both only improve.
Despite this frustrating start to the season for the Sox, it’s ludicrous to say that it’s anything but a magical time to be a Boston sports fan. With Devers and Chavis on the roster, the future of Boston power hitting is here now. And the best part? They’re just getting started.
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Photo: Portland Press Herald