Rafael Devers is one of the most exciting young players in the game, but there is one facet of his game that still needs plenty of refining.
The 21-year-old’s defense can be quite a roller coaster at times, with his glovework and throwing from the hot corner regularly being pretty unpredictable.
But one legend has some ideas on how he can improve.
Wade Boggs, whose number is retired with the Boston Red Sox, detailed to The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo how Devers can take his defense to the next level.
Boggs noted that Devers is suffering from slow feet, so he fields the ball off to the side instead of squarely in front. As such, his feet and arm are out of sync, which plays a role in the throw also going off the target.
So, here’s the solution:
“The reason they have slow feet is that they take a step or step-and-a-half and field the ball off to the side,” Boggs said. “Whereas if they shuffle really quick they can field it in front. That’s where a lot of times they’ll say, ‘Wow, this guy has really slow feet.’ It’s just a drop-step where you can shuffle over with a drop-step, get in front of the baseball, and now you’re more in line to throw to first base as opposed to fielding the ball on the side and making a half-turn and throwing sidearm to first. You never really get the full shoulder turn and aim at the target. It’s really simple.
“He probably doesn’t feel it,” Boggs added. “You just present it like this is what it feels like and the lightbulb goes off and they go, ‘Wow, I didn’t know it was that easy.’ A lot of young third basemen don’t know the drop-step and that’s where you’re creating range, which is created by moving laterally and dropping with either foot to create angles. Once you learn that, it’s like night and day. Now you’re getting to balls you never even thought of getting to. You’re not taking a diagonal approach, you’re taking more of a triangular approach to where all the angles are getting bigger and you’re covering more ground.”
Devers is going through some of the problems many young players endure. But with the way he can swing the bat, he truly will become one of the more special players in the game should he get his defense up to par.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images