Let’s start with this: Sorry, Adam Duvall!
Earlier this week, the OTM staff ranked the players on the Red Sox roster in order of how much fun they are to watch. And, inexplicably, we completely left Duvall off the list. This was despite the fact that, as of this moment, Adam Duvall is quite literally the best player in the league:
Adam Duvall is the first player to break the 1 WAR mark this season. He leads baseball with a 355 wRC+ hahah.— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) April 8, 2023
1. Adam Duvall 1.1
2. Bryan Reynolds 0.9
It’s obvious that Duvall took this slight personally, as he compiled another 8 total bases today.
But, with another apology to Adam Duvall, he’s not the player I want to talk about right now.
At the halfway mark last year, Rafael Devers was on pace for the following full-season numbers: 38 homers, 54 doubles, and 102 RBI, with a .330/.388/.598 slash line. Why am I telling you this? Because, fun fact: every single one of those numbers would have been good for the top 10 in all of baseball at the end of the year. In fact, the .330 batting average and 54 doubles would have both been first, with the .598 slugging being good enough for third.
Rafael Devers did not reach those numbers, of course. Thanks to a unimaginable month-long slump, he finished the year with 27 homers, 42 doubles, 88 RBI, and a .295/.358/.521 slash line. That’s still outstanding offensive production! But it isn’t the cheat-code-level hitting he showed through July.
We still don’t know exactly what caused that slump (it seems likely that injuries played a role, as the slump was preceded by a 10-day stint on the IL with hamstring inflammation), but it robbed us of one of the best offensive seasons by a Red Sox player in recent memory.
So . . . what if that’s what we’re in for this year?
Devers homered twice today (including a grand slam), as the Red Sox finally won a game comfortably. Duvall continued his improbable run, blasting a homer of his own to go with two doubles. Tanner Houck pitched 5 competent innings for the second time this season. Masataka Yoshida walked 3 times.
At this extremely young point of the season, Devers now has 4 homers and is slashing .343/.361/.771. Not quite up to the level of Adam Duvall, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if 2023 is Rafael Devers’ best season to date.
Will it be good enough to win him some hardware?
Well, to win the American League MVP right now, one of two things needs to happen. Either a player has a historically great season, or Shohei Ohtani gets hurt. I couldn’t possibly root for an injury to the greatest baseball player of all time, so let’s hope for something really special from Raffy this year.
- Rafael Devers: .195 WPA, 2-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI
- Adam Duvall: -.011 WPA (WTF?) 3-5, HR, 2 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI
- Alex Verdugo: .088 WPA, 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI
- Justin Turner: -.015 WPA, 0-5,
- Ryan Brasier: 0 WPA, 1 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Kiké Hernandez: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 R
WPA Play Of The Game
Whenever there’s a grand slam, you can almost guarantee that it’ll be the play of the game. Take it away, Raffy:
GRAND SLAM RAFAEL DEVERS ☄️— La Nación Red Sox (@lanacionboston) April 8, 2023