It has been a tough couple of months for the Red Sox. Between missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015, the uncertain future of homegrown superstar Mookie Betts, getting caught up in the sign-stealing scandal and the subsequent end of the Alex Cora era, I know I’m not the only one who is ready for pitchers and catchers to report. Amid all of the negative things that happened in the 2019 season and this offseason, there’s at least one storyline that brings a smile to my face every time and hopefully will continue to do so for the next decade: the relationship between Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts.
It wasn’t all that fun to see the Sox suffer their way to an 84-78 record in 2019 while watching a rotation worth almost $90 million struggle to live up to that billing. Watching Bogaerts and Devers take a simultaneous and gigantic leap production-wise was one of the few bright spots in a season full of not-so-fun things. Their stat lines were nearly interchangeable as Bogey finished the year with a .309/.384/.555 slash line, 52 doubles, 33 home runs and 117 RBI, while Devers slashed .311/.361/.555 with 54 doubles, 32 home runs and 115 RBI. They became the first teammates in league history to hit 50+ doubles and 30+ home runs in the same season, per MLB.com. One of the best things about making history, according to Devers? “To be able to do that with (Bogaerts), it feels really special … Obviously, we have to continue to play the game together and break as many records as possible. It’s pretty special,” he told reporters in September through his translator.
Offensively, they were arguably the best shortstop/third base combination in all of baseball last year. Personally, the relationship between Devers and Bogaerts was one of my favorite story lines of the 2019 season and with both players locked up through at least 2022, I’m hoping there’s much more fun ahead for these two. The third baseman seemed to find a fast friend and in his shortstop, while Bogey — like many baseball fans — seems to be enamored with his young teammate. “I was ready at a young age, but he’s ready with power and all. I was joking the other day, I hit .320 my second year, pretty much like him, but with no power. It was little bloops to right field. He’s hitting .330 with opposite field power, all types of power, extra-base hits, driving in runs,” Bogaerts said in an interview at the All-Star Game last year. And he’s not wrong. Devers hit 32 home runs in just his second full season in Boston, while becoming the youngest player in Red Sox history to collect at least 50 doubles in a season.
Bogaerts, who signed a six-year extension last offseason, was asked in July if he would do the same thing given a re-do, and he said, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, “I would do the same thing, yeah. Seeing Devers every day, (expletive), that’s something.”
Xander Bogaerts on whether he would sign his six-year extension again if given the chance for a redo: “I would do the same thing, yeah. Seeing Devers every day, (expletive), that’s something.”— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) July 8, 2019
The best friendships in sports typically have some type of competitive element to them where both players are pushing each other constantly to get the best out of one another. Think Julian Edelman and Tom Brady, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, etc., etc. There were many different things that contributed to Bogaerts’ career year in 2019, and obviously we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that Devers’ success had anything to do with it, but we also can’t say that it didn’t have anything to do with. If they are feeding off each other and pushing each other to the next level that they both spent much of the 2019 season playing at, I am absolutely here for it and excited to see what the new season will bring.