Ranking baseball's best duos — are Devers and Bogaerts No. 1?
CLEVELAND — Two swings, two opposite-field drives, two home runs. When Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts blasted back-to-back bombs off All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber on Wednesday, they provided another reminder that not only are they best thing going on the 2019 Red Sox, they're one of the scariest duos in baseball.
Since Devers started hitting in May, the two slugging infielders have carried the offense. It's borderline unfathomable that the Red Sox could find themselves so far from playoff contention with the two swinging like they are, but such is life in this topsy-turvy season.
In any event, Bogaerts and Devers wouldn't have made too many terrifying twosomes lists when the season started, but they might belong atop the heap now. Here's one unscientific ranking of baseball's best 1-2 punches.
(Stats as of end of play Wednesday 8/14)
10. Cleveland Indians
Carlos Santana (.287-27-72-.946) and Francisco Lindor (.303-20-51-.881)
The resurgent Indians draw their energy and identity from the emotional and colorful Lindor, who's one of the most exciting players in baseball both in the field and at the plate. Though he's coming off a 38-homer season, he acts more like a catalyst and table setter. The thunder comes from Santana, his fellow switch hitter, an on-base machine who returned to Cleveland after a one-year detour in Philadelphia. They've picked up the slack for Jose Ramirez, who only started hitting last month.
9. Minnesota Twins
Nelson Cruz (.294-32-76-1.035) and Max Kepler (.258-32-78-.874)
David Ortiz used to constantly lobby Red Sox management to sign Cruz, an ageless slugger who just keeps producing at age 39. Though he's currently on the IL with a wrist injury, he has already reached 30 homers for the sixth straight season, with a late-career renaissance that shows no signs of abating. Kepler, meanwhile, is already the best big leaguer to hail from Germany, and he's experiencing a breakout season at age 26.
8. Colorado Rockies
Charlie Blackmon (.323-24-65-.960) and Nolan Arenado (.303-27-90-.908)
These two perennial All-Stars power the Rockies lineup, which obviously benefits from Colorado's thin air. The Rockies hit .307 as a team at home and .230 on the road, and Blackmon (.252 away from home) and Arenado (.264) aren't immune from that disparity. That said, they're a dynamic duo atop the order, sandwiched around fellow All-Star Trevor Story, who's having a big year of his own (.288-27-67-.919).
7. Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant (.292-24-59-.928) and Anthony Rizzo (.284-21-73-.895)
Bryant opened his career in Dustin Pedroia fashion, with a Rookie of the Year Award in 2015 and MVP a year later when the Cubs ended their own World Series curse, the final out a 5-3 putout from Bryant to Rizzo. The former is back producing after injuries limited him to 13 homers last year. The latter seems on his way to a fifth straight 100-RBI season, which Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks, never managed. Slugging shortstop Javier Baez earns an honorable mention here, by the way.
6. Washington Nationals
Anthony Rendon (.318-26-92-1.004) and Juan Soto (.290-25-79-.949)
As excited as Red Sox fans rightly feel about the 22-year-old Devers, it's worth noting what Soto is doing at 20. He blasted 22 homers last year as a teenager and has already topped that total now. He owns prodigious power to all fields and an advance understanding of the strike zone, as evidenced by his .402 on base percentage. Rendon has already matched a career-high in homers and just made his first All-Star team. Bryce Harper? Who needs him.
5. New York Yankees
Gio Urshela (.335-18-64-.964) and DJ LeMahieu (.337-19-81-.920)
You are reading that correctly. No Aaron Judge. No Gary Sanchez. No Giancarlo Stanton. In their place, the Yankees are being carried by Giovanni Freaking Urshela and DJ LeMahieu. Unlike the other names on this list, they're largely doing it the old-fashioned way by hitting it where they ain't. The league's top two hitters have spearheaded New York's no-name attack, though in fairness, LeMahieu already owns one batting title from his days in Colorado.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
Cody Bellinger (.317-39-90-1.074) and Max Muncy (.258-28-79-.882)
The launch-angle Dodgers have already topped 200 homers as a team, good for No. 1 in the National League. They're paced by Bellinger, the odds-on favorite for NL MVP at age 23. He's the most complete hitter in a lineup that plays for the home run like an old-fashioned American League team. Red Sox fans remember Muncy from Game 2 of the World Series, but he has blossomed into a legitimate power threat who is closing in on his second straight 30-homer season.
3. Atlanta Braves
Freddie Freeman (.308-29-96-.964) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (.298-34-82-.918)
My god, there are so many great young hitters in baseball, and Acuna belongs alongside all of them. The 21-year-old has so much natural power to center and right field, he put on a show at the Home Run Derby by going the other way, earning plaudits from an amazed Bogaerts. Freeman is a former wunderkind himself who overlapped with the final three seasons of franchise icon Chipper Jones and is already an elder statesman at age 29.
2. Boston Red Sox
Rafael Devers (.327-25-94-.954) and Xander Bogaerts (.308-27-92-.947)
Gotta leave something to shoot for, right? Devers and Bogaerts are monsters, as they proved during a three-game set in Cleveland that saw Bogaerts deliver a game-tying double with two outs in the ninth of the opener, Devers go 6-for-6 in the middle game, and each of them homer — Bogaerts twice — in the finale. It's hard to imagine that any duo would strike more fear in opposing pitchers at the moment, but we've got to give respect where it's due, because the AL's best team features some bats worth talking about, too.
1. Houston Astros
George Springer (.297-26-67-.977) and Alex Bregman (.277-28-77-.956)
Devers and Bogaerts are having tremendous seasons, but holy cow the damage these two can do, particularly in the postseason. Springer started the year on a 60-homer pace before suffering an injury vs. the Red Sox, but he might be the prototypical do-damage leadoff hitter of today's game, putting immediate pressure on rival staffs before Bregman even steps to the plate. Houston's lineup is so good, any combination of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Michael Brantley would deserve consideration on this list, too.