Rafael Devers is one of my favorite parts of the postseason, and if you don’t take that description at face value then you’ve come to the right place. Because this is my chance to convince you that he is, in fact, an angelic marvel who at 22 years old (as of Wednesday!) is one of the brightest spots on the Red Sox despite not being an outright star just yet.
You might be mostly familiar with Devers — who goes by Raffy or Raf in the clubhouse — if you follow any of the many Red Sox fans who have claimed him as our son. Or, as we are legally bound to put it, “MY SON.” Number of “n’s” in “son” is up to the individual but it’s usually between three and seven. All caps is not optional. A Twitter search for “Rafael Devers” and “son” is worth the scroll.
When God said "this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased" he was talking about Rafael Devers— Angelyn Cannon (@AngelynCannon95) October 19, 2018
So proud of my large adult son, Rafael Devers.— Caroline Darney (@cwdarney) October 18, 2018
RAFAEL DEVERS MY BRILLIANT DINGER SON— Whitney McIntosh (@WhitneyM02) July 26, 2017
My beautiful young son, Rafael Devers, is doing great things again. Here's me on him being great. https://t.co/yX3QCtxB5R— Jon Tayler, Smiling Politely (@JATayler) August 15, 2017
Rafael Devers is the best large son anyone could ever ask for— OverTheMonster (@OverTheMonster) April 14, 2018
But why is he our beautiful, large, cherubic son exactly? What makes him such catnip to the Boston fanbase even when he’s flubbing plays at third base or striking out at pitches that are above his head?
The beginning for our son
Things started in 2017 when the Red Sox DFA’d Pablo Sandoval and as such were in need of a new third baseman. Devers was hit .311 with 20 home runs in 86 games between Double and Triple A ball last season so the call up made sense despite some concerns about his defensive reliability at the hot corner. (You hear that Blue Jays? You can call up a third base prospect during the season even if you think he’s not fully developed.)
In 58 games for Boston after the call up, Devers would hit .284 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI. This year, while dealing with a hamstring injury splitting time at third with utility infielder Eduardo Nuñez, Devers hit .240 with 21 home runs and 66 RBI.
He had a four-hit games with the first handful he played in the big leagues, joining other Sox players like Ted Williams and Fred Lynn. He was one of the youngest Red Sox players to ever hit their first major league home run. He had a multi-home run game at just 20 years old, the first Boston player since Tony Conigliaro to do so. He’s the first player to hit home runs in back-to-back games before age 21 since Tony C and Ted Williams. He hit a home run off of Bartolo Colon.
It didn’t end up mattering, they lost the game and the series a few minutes later, but the look on his face will be forever perfect. Which brings us to the other big reason why we love Rafael Devers.
I mean ... just look at him
There’s a reason the best way to describe Devers is as a son, large son, beautiful baby boy, perfect son, etc. He’s only a year removed from being able to legally drink alcohol, has a drastic case of baby face, and just looks like the most innocent and wide-eyed baseball player at all times.
Take this picture, for example, where he looks like someone took his seat but he’s not sure how to speak up about it so he’s just hanging around while he figures out what to do.
In this picture, he looks like a kid who won a contest to get fake interviewed in the Red Sox clubhouse during the postseason and one of the older players gave him their World Series sweatshirt to make the experience worth it for the lucky guy.
When Jackie Bradley, Jr. won ALCS MVP, Devers sat attentively in the front of the crowded clubhouse to watch the trophy ceremony as if it were a school assembly he’d be quizzed on later. He also just constantly has a smile on his face. He’s either absorbing all the action around him with the utmost attentiveness, which is adorable, or beaming from ear to ear. Look at this!
How can you not love that face? How can you do anything but want that face to succeed? Which brings us to the one part of Rafael Devers’ time on the field that is not always so endearing.
What we talk about when we talk about Devers’ defense
Yes, he has a wonderful face and is adorable and is also good at hitting a baseball, but he also has a fielding percentage of .916 in his time in the majors. But everyone has to have a flaw. How would you know how much we love our son if we didn’t also acknowledge his flaws?
His defense is ... not good. It’s so shaky at times that you understand why manager Alex Cora has started Eduardo Nuñez at third base even when the splits aren’t in his favor. Even though Nuñez’s defense is also atrocious. Even though he sometimes can’t pick a ball up and throw it without missing the target by six feet or almost breaking an angle. There’s a reason Steve Pearce has been doing a ton of splits at first base to secure catches, no matter if it’s Nuñez or Devers at third. But we don’t love Devers any less because of it.
You just want to root for him to do well, like if you had an actual small son who has trouble saving goals in his youth soccer league. So when he makes an easy block it’s amazing despite looking totally routine. Someone deciding to smartly throw to second to get a third out instead of forcing a throw across the diamond (as he did early in Game 2) wouldn’t be applauded if it wasn’t Devers. Yet because he bobbles and freezes and makes easy mistakes sometimes him making a routine play is celebrated as if it were a Gold Glove-worthy move.
The World Series
All you need to know about Devers’ personality is that when Alex Cora told him he would be starting Game 1 of the World Series on the eve of his 22nd birthday, Devers said “whatever.” In that game he walked, struck out, and had an RBI single before Nuñez pinch hit for him and cracked a three-run home run.
He’s tied for the longest RBI streak to start a postseason career, with at least one run driven in in his first eight October starts. He was the youngest player to play in a World Series game since his current teammate Xander Bogaerts back in 2013. He’s held his own defensively so far (although it certainly helps he hasn’t been asked to turn any impossible plays just yet.)
During Game 2 he struck out twice thanks to Hyun-Jin Ryu’s nasty curveball, expertly fielded a Chris Taylor bunt, but not much more. In Game 3 he went 0-fer but came back in Games 4 and 5 with a hit and an RBI. Compared to what the rest of the lineup was doing before the clinching game that’s contribution enough. He also defended ably the whole time. We’re so proud of our son.