Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I Like the Future with Devers at Third

I'm sure I'm not alone in admitting that over the last five years, I've watched the 2013 World Series DVD once or twice or 36 or 1000 times. In all those viewings, one thing stands out to me. The praise heaped on a young Xander Bogaerts. If you don't remember, he played a big role in game 3, the game that was eventually given to the Cardinals thanks to a blown interference call. But, that call wouldn't have been needed if it weren't for Xander. In the eighth inning, Bogaerts was at the plate facing Trevor Rosenthal, the Cardinals dominant reliever, with the tying run on base. Xander didn't try to do too much. He didn't let the moment get the best of him. He simply grounded a pitch up the middle for the game tying RBI.

As I've been watching highlights of this 2018 championship postseason (as we all have been, right?) I've noticed something. Just how often Rafael Devers was doing something clutch. The 22-year old never let the moment get ahead of him either. He just kept producing. Not enough to win the MVP, or even to really stand out in our memories. But, like a machine he contributed whenever he was needed.

A simple ground ball RBI in the first inning of ALCS game two to extend an early lead in a game the Sox needed to even the series. Another one in the top of the first in game five, making sure the Astros knew they would be in trouble. An amazing game-opening three run home run off Justin Verlander to drive in the winning runs in the game five clincher. When he was needed, he produced!

More of the same in the World Series. An RBI in game one to give the Sox an insurance run. And most important? The go-ahead RBI in the top of the ninth to complete the comeback in the crushing game four.

Just based on the World Series alone, he would have been impressive. Add in the rest of the playoffs, and the kid had himself an October.

So what? He had a good month. 

Well, when you're 22 and suffer from inconsistency, every little bit helps. Every time he can look back and say "this is nothing compared to facing Verlander, I can do this" is one more time he can settle down and let his talents take over. And when you're talking about a season, or a career, that can add up to a lot.

So, will he struggle next year? Sure, maybe. Will he start off slow? Could be. But, has he show us, and himself, that he has the ability and mental state to pull himself out of slumps? Absolutely.

And that is just huge.

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