Rafael Devers

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers admits he still experiences anxiety before games

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers admits he still experiences anxiety before games

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers doesn't always have the easiest time preparing for games. 

After a breakout season in 2019 (.311, 32 homers, 115 RBI, .916 OPS), the 23-year-old has turned into one of Boston's best at the plate, but that doesn't mean he doesn't experience anxiety. 

The Boston Herald's Jason Mastrodonato sat down with Devers for an interview before the MLB postponed its season due to the coronavirus, and Devers indicated that he still feels a rush before games begin.

“The hardest thing I still go through is every game I still get this anxiousness of the game starting," Devers said, according to Mastrodonato. "It’s this happiness of being out there and being on the field and playing and getting over that anxiety. I’m just over-emotional about the opportunity and being out there playing.

“Because it’s not like a nervous thing, it’s more of an excited thing. That first inning is a big rush. But after that first inning settles, I get an at-bat and it’s like, alright, the game kind of settles. It’s just me being overly emotional about how happy I am.”

“It’s something I’ve been working on since I’ve been here. I’ve been working with previous people in the organization that led me to some of my breathing techniques that I do now. But it’s all about controlling myself. I know it. It’s still there and I’m still working on it. But I have gotten much better at it.”

Of course, you can tell that Devers can't wait to take the field -- he lights up like a kid on Christmas -- but you'd never know truly how emotional he gets. 

In three seasons with the Red Sox, Devers has hit .282 with 211 RBI, 63 home runs and a 5.8 WAR. Based on his 2019 stats, those pregame jitters must've been a little easier to deal with last season. 

Whatever's in store for the Red Sox in 2020, and whenever the baseball season begins, we should expect some big things from Devers in his fourth season.

Red Sox still have one of MLB's best offensive trios without Mookie Betts

Red Sox still have one of MLB's best offensive trios without Mookie Betts

The trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers is one Boston Red Sox fans will never forget. 

Although Betts played a major role in both the offensive and defensive side of things, the Red Sox still boast one of the best trios at the plate in Major League Baseball.

Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez also have been a big reason why Boston's offense has been pretty solid the past few years. 

Here's how the three compared to other players around the league in various offensive stats in 2019, according to Justin Long, Red Sox senior manager of media relations and baseball information via his @SoxNotes Twitter account:

  • Martinez: .304 AVG/36 HR/105 RBI
  • Bogaerts: .309 AVG/33 HR/117 RBI
  • Devers: .311 AVG/32 HR/115 RBI

Every other team combined had just four players hit at least .300 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI in 2019 -- Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies), Cody Bellinger (Los Angeles Dodgers), Nelson Cruz (Minnesota Twins) and Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals). 

The Red Sox certainly will feel the loss of Betts (.295/29 HR/80 RBI in 2019) in the coming months once the MLB resumes play, but the offense isn't necessarily their problem -- the pitching is. 

Boston also sent David Price to L.A. in the Betts trade and failed to receive a pitcher in return after denying a three-team trade with the Twins for pitcher Brusdar Graterol due to his medicals. They also lost Rick Porcello via free agency to the New York Mets and, with left-hander Chris Sale's future in doubt, the starting rotation is a question mark.

Sale is dealing with a flexor strain in his pitching arm and wasn't going to be ready to start Opening Day before the season was postponed due to the coronavirus. The Red Sox also have Eduardo Rodriguez, Martin Perez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Ryan Weber as the projected starting rotation.

If Bogaerts, Devers and Martinez came come close to last season's numbers, there won't be much to worry about with the offense.

Red Sox star Rafael Devers' 2020 salary is absurdly good value

Red Sox star Rafael Devers' 2020 salary is absurdly good value

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers will be one of Major League Baseball's biggest bargains in 2020.

The team announced Monday it had reached contract agreements with 19 players for the upcoming season, as well as the renewal of Devers' contract for 2020. The Boston Globe's Alex Speier tweeted Devers will make $692,500 this year, which is incredible value for one of the league's best young players.

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Devers enjoyed a breakout 2019 during which he batted .311 with 32 home runs, 115 RBI and a .361 on-base percentage. The 23-year-old's 201 hits ranked second in the American League behind Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield's 206.

In fact, Devers compares favorably to Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout in a few important statistical categories since making his MLB debut in 2017 (no, we're not saying Devers is as good as Trout, but it's an encouraging start for the young star).

Devers will be eligible for arbitration after the 2020 season, and at that time he can expect a massive raise, especially if he continues to rank among the AL's best third basemen.

It would behoove the Red Sox to sign him to a long-term extension before he becomes too expensive. The Red Sox cannot afford a repeat of the Mookie Betts situation if they're going to compete for World Series titles in the near future.

Tomase: Don't cede the AL East to New York just yet