Why Rafael Devers is likely to hit second for Red Sox

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It might be a semi-meaningless Grapefruit League game, but the lineup rolled out by Ron Roenicke Friday did have some meaning.

Making his spring training debut Rafael Devers is slotted into the Red Sox' batting order's No. 2 spot. While this time he is hitting behind Tzu-Wei Lin instead of Andrew Benintendi, it's a position Devers should be getting used to.

"You tinker with it. Second, certainly is a spot that it could be," the Red Sox interim manager said when asked where he saw Devers primarily hitting in the lineup. "Then you push three and four with Bogey and J.D. but we’ll see how it plays out. I think the way he’s become consistent I guess with what he does, I think second makes sense. If Benny continues to look like he’s gonna lead off, then probably second."

It wouldn't be foreign territory for Devers who hit in the spot 74 times in 2019, totaling a .334 batting average and 1.032 OPS while hitting second.

It's a spot that has suddenly become a home for some of the game's best hitters, such as Los Angeles' Mike Trout. Across Major League Baseball in 2019, the No. 2 spot in the batting order managed the highest OPS (.820) ever recorded, easily beating out the second-highest mark, which came in 2017 (.786).

"It has changed. I don’t know … did we not just know numbers back then? I don’t know," Roenicke said. "It’s kind of strange, I was in Anaheim and you’ve got Mike Trout and they’re talking about putting him second in the lineup. Like you said, whether it’s five, 10 years ago, you would have never thought of putting Mike Trout second. The numbers prove I guess, that the two spot is huge in your lineup and creating runs. I know it gives you whatever it is extra at-bats whether it’s 20, 30 extra at-bats in a season by being second versus third. You want him up there more often so I guess that’s the new way to do it."