Four years ago, I told you Jackie Bradley Jr. was your favorite player. Since then, it’s been sort of a struggle to watch your favorite player, because sometimes he can hit a baseball and sometimes he can’t. He’s still a lovely man, an incredible fielder and has a top-shelf beard. Fine choice and all that. But with a year left on his contract and his Red Sox rebuilding or retooling or whatever they and/or you want to call it, it’s time to make a switch before things get dicey. Now is not the time for more uncertainty.
The good news? You read the headline, so you already know: Rafael Devers is your new favorite player.
Honestly, you deserve this. Frankly, it’s a much better choice than Bradley, so much so you might question the wisdom of picking the former in the first place. If so, silence! This is science. I am just doing science. Anyhow here’s the science:
Bradley was your favorite player in 2016 because, on a team loaded with stars and superstars, he was the cool alternative to picking one of the big names. Mookie Betts was the obvious choice, but he was so obvious as to make the exercise not fun, like picking Tom Brady as your favorite Patriot, so I forbade it, and you didn’t choose him. (Donte Hightower is your favorite Patriot.)
Obviously, though... times change. Brady is no longer a Patriot. Betts is a Dodger. The sports landscape has shifted dramatically even as we have stayed on our dumb butts in our dumb houses and watch little else of consequence develop outside of the pandemic. We are struggling for good news and I aim to deliver some.
You know who’s a big bundle of good news? Rafael Devers. But before I get to him, let me say some kind words about another candidate — really the only other candidate — who finds himself again stuck at number two, fittingly enough, for the second time. Back in 2016, Xander Bogaerts was the clear-cut choice to challenge Bradley for the crown, especially because he hadn’t yet taken a massive on-field leap. In fact, Bogaerts might have been your actual favorite player, but since I didn’t sign off on it, it remained unverified, and maybe now you were hoping to get that Bryan seal off approval for your choice.
Sorry. No can do. No backdating! The good part here is that second place isn’t entirely just the “first loser.” It’s a coveted spot! Bogaerts can rest easy at night knowing he’s held down the runner-up position for a decade, and he might even understand being bypassed by his third baseman. Then again, Bogaerts might be offended that he wasn’t the heir to the throne, and correctly point out that it’s unfair for Devers to leapfrog him given that it’s likely Devers couldn’t actually jump over a frog, let alone another human being.
But, if I may respond directly: I am sorry Xander Bogaerts, the moment has passed. Your effortless excellence is a credit to all the creatures of land and sea, and your play might end you up in the Red Sox Hall of Fame if you’re not careful. You have done everything right and you would be correct to say your rightful place is atop this ranking, but I’d be equally correct in saying life isn’t fair and thanks for reading, pal!
No, Devers is the only choice these days, and that’s pretty sad given the incredibly high-powered roster from which we were choosing in 2016. At that, when team-wide excellence was a given, I chose us a player who represented everything we wanted — including fallibility. Bradley has never been a perfect player, unlike Betts, Bogaerts, Chris Sale or J.D. Martinez, who have all been close enough, more or less, to claim it. Perfect is still boring, but greatness is not. We need a bit more in our lives.
And so Devers it is. Our beefy boy will hit dingers and man the hot corner for the foreseeable future, though he may eventually lose his baby fat and will absolutely grow into a certified-ass man out there, sooner rather than later. His style and swag are off the charts, and he’s the player, perhaps even more than Bogaerts, who will lead them back to the promised land. There’s still no baseball, but hope springs eternal, and isn’t that something? It’s in the form of your favorite player.