By Scot Neri – @scooterneri
I feel like I should first provide you with a disclaimer. I don’t have a dog in this hunt. I discuss the Red Sox as an outsider looking in. Being a third generation New Englander, but never a Sox fan, I feel like I have a unique outlook on the team. While I love Boston, and am a fan of the other three teams in the city, I make no claims of being a “Sox fan”.
That said, Rafael Devers has impressed the hell out of me. This kid can smash a baseball and it looks as if he’s having more fun than a 20-year-old should. Even after his recent 0 for 12 span (as of this writing), he’s slashing .306/.372/.492. Projected out over a full season, he’s looking at .306 AVG, 39 HR, 91 RBI.
Andrew Benintendi is flashier, more charismatic and has a cool nickname, “Benny Biceps.” However, his ceiling is much lower than Devers. Benintendi’s career numbers (essentially a full season of at bats) sits at .282 AVG, 19 HR, 84 RBI. The batting average and RBI are similar to Devers projection, but the power stands out for Devers. Don’t get me wrong, Benintendi is a nice young talent. His comparable should top out at Mike Greenwell (.303/17/93) but is probably closer to Trot Nixon (.274/20/82). He’ll make a few All-star teams and max out with local advertisers, but is never going to be the power threat that Devers is.
Speaking of Devers, his ceiling is that of a former Sox star who’s 162 game numbers are .286 AVG, 36 HR, 119 RBI. That provides a drop of both AVG and HR but a rise in RBI (which is doable when he starts hitting 3rd or 4th). That comparable is David Ortiz.
Look, I get it, the kid has only played 23 games, but became the first player under 21 to homer against the Yankees in three straight games since Babe Ruth did it in 1915 per ESPN. Devers is what every team is looking for. He’s a kid who has elite power and should be a cornerstone of this team for a long time. Did I mention he’s just 20?
The choice is easy.