BOSTON — The hope the Red Sox should extract from a most improbable home run is staying power.
Everyone knew previously that Rafael Devers was a special talent. But the home run off Aroldis Chapman might just be an indication that Devers can do what the Sox need most. It was a suggestion the Sox have a young player so advanced for his age, that he may actually be able to remain highly productive for the rest of the season.
The odds will still be stacked against him as scouting reports build. But the odds can't be worse than they were Sunday night in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium.
No one hits 102.8 mph mph pitches over the fence. No one had, in fact, prior to Sunday.
Left-handed hitters certainly don’t rip home runs off Aroldis Chapman. But when it’s an elevated, inner-half pitch at that speed? And you’re 20 years old and playing in your 15th career game?
Devers’ game-tying home run was a stop-you-in-your-tracks moment. It was historic, because of the velocity of the pitch Devers turned around — faster than any other before it since they started tracking velocities with consistency. (It’s not like anyone else is throwing around 103 mph with much frequency any way, with all due respect to Joe Kelly.)
We knew this was a hitter of extraordinary ability. He came to the majors and held his own immediately despite barely any time at Triple-A Pawtucket.
But there’s a natural wonder, as the Sox have rattled off 10 wins in 11 games, of what promise the win streak holds for the future.
Consider that in the 14 days prior to Monday, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit .179, Hanley Ramirez hit .188 and Xander Bogaerts hit .205. The Andrew Benintendi show (.457) has featured guest starts in Eduardo Nunez (.353) and Devers (.342) and basically every pitcher. But offensively, the cast is going to have to expand. And with Nunez and Devers, there’s a question of how long they can keep up this pace.
Nunez has been a wonderful addition, particularly in light of Dustin Pedroia’s left knee. The Sox didn’t go out and add a power bat, a Todd Frazier type as the Yankees did. Devers has filled that role so far. Heck, he’s done more than Ramirez in their shared time in the big leagues.
No one can predict the future.
But if Devers is so advanced that he can hold his own in the majors from the get-go, and then handle Chapman the way he did? There’s no other proof, 15 games in, that would better tell you he’s equipped for the rest of this season than what he’s done two-plus weeks into his big league career.