Last week, Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole said he was “open to suggestions” about how to successfully pitch to Rafael Devers. But Cole shouldn’t be the only one asking for assistance.
Devers hit his fifth home run in seven games against the Yankees on Saturday night with a first-pitch home run in the first inning off Jameson Taillon. It was his second straight game with a home run in his first at-bat after hitting a two-run blast in the first inning off Jordan Montgomery on Friday. He also went deep twice against Cole on July 7, driving in five runs. Saturday's blast gave him 22 homers, 55 RBIs and 62 runs scored this season.
But Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he doesn’t just see it as Devers playing his best against the Yankees or other strong competition. It’s simply that Devers is a tough player to get out — and has been throughout his career.
“He plays good against anybody and he enjoys playing the game,” Cora said. “He’s been consistent all season.”
And the numbers prove that. Devers entered Saturday leading the American League in hits (111) and total bases (204) and had a .326/.383/.600 slash line. Devers also had the league’s second-best OPS (.983), which ranked third in MLB.
The 25-year-old third baseman will start at third base in the All-Star Game for the American League on Tuesday.
If anything, Cora hinted that Devers might be more underrated than anything. With the bevy of young talent in baseball, Devers isn’t necessarily the first name that comes to mind. Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Fernando Tatis Jr. might garner initial attention, but Devers’ numbers compare favorably to all of them.
“One thing about Raffy, and I know a lot of people are talking about other players his age, Raffy has been really good since he was called up in ,” Cora said. “I know [in 2018] we platooned him, but the playoffs he was great, and in  he led the league in extra-base hits.”
Devers, currently in his sixth season, led the American League with 54 doubles and all of baseball with 359 total bases in 2019. His numbers dipped in 2020 with 11 home runs, 43 RBIs and 32 runs scored in 57 games in the abbreviated season, but he rebounded with a strong 2021 campaign, hitting 28 home runs with 113 RBIs and 101 runs scored.
“We have to give him a mulligan for ,” Cora said. “He was a young kid in the middle of the pandemic that was in the Dominican and he was afraid to step out of the house.”
But that version of Devers seems to be long gone, and he’s proved the spotlight doesn’t faze him. And quite simply put, Devers isn’t going anywhere, to the peril of AL East opponents.
“He’s just a good player,” Cora said. “And we enjoy having him.”