All of 22 years old and blessed with natural power, there’s no telling how many home runs Rafael Devers could hit some day. So I was surprised at his response when I asked him during spring training what statistical category he thought he could lead the league in at some point during his career.
“Batting average,” Devers said through interpreter Davison Perez.
Batting average? This from a guy who struck out once every 3.7 at bats and hit a paltry .240 last season. Why did he give that shocking answer?
“I want to be a complete player, so because of that, one of the things I want to win one day is the batting title,” Devers said.
You also have great power, I reminded Devers.
“Un poquito,” he said, smiling.
So put the two together and one day maybe a Triple Crown?
“I try,” Devers said in English, then relied on Perez to translate the rest of his answer. “You never know. That’s something a lot of guys want to do. Obviously, Miguel Cabrera won one year. I think if I put a little bit of effort, I think I can do that.”
Here we are with one quarter of the season in the books, and through Sunday’s games, Devers led the American League with a .336 batting average. He also ranked fourth with a .408 on-base percentage, one spot behind teammate Mookie Betts. Devers had a .298 OBP last season.
He set out to make better contact this season. For him to show such immediate returns illustrates how much talent he has as a hitter. He struck out 3.8 times for every walk a year ago. This season it’s 1.3 strikeouts per walk. And he’s contending for a batting title? Remarkable.