Kevin Hill- MLB.com
Wil Myers‘ call-up to the big leagues has paid dividends to a Tampa Bay Rays team that was keeping their heads above water thanks to great pitching and strong defense. Myers, along with Evan Longoria and James Loney, has been efficacious in jump starting a stalled Rays’ offense.
As of 30 July, the Tampa Bay Rays are ahead of the American League East pack by a half game. With the Toronto Blue Jays on life support and the New York Yankees given just a few weeks to live, the race has come down to three teams: Tampa, the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles.
Of those three teams, it’s looking like the Rays may be the most complete.
Myers has been the best player on the team during its recent surge. Through the past two weeks, Myers has been a beast at the plate. His OBP/ISO/wOBA slash line is .472/.455/.572 and he’s created 11 runs in eight games. Those numbers are good for first in ISO and wOBA, fourth in OBP. Myers is able to get on base and be incredibly effective in terms of producing runs. In 34 games, he’s produced 24 runs for the Rays.
Since the 10th of July, Myers has had just one game where he hasn’t produced a hit and only three of those games were not multi-hit games. During that stretch he’s also been five out of five in stolen base attempts.
In terms of plate approach, a 22.3% strikeout rate isn’t bad but generating more walks would make him even more effective. Improving upon his 5.4% walk rate may be difficult because according to his pitch f/x chart, he’s seeing a lot of pitches in the strike zone. Pitchers are challenging him and his .380 BABIP indicates he’s got a much better eye than your typical rookie. He’s swung at just 31% of pitches out of the zone, although has made contact on 75% of pitches overall (below league average).
Keeping in mind Myers has only played in 34 games this season, he’s tops in most of the Rays’ average statistics (ie- Batting Average, wOBA, SLG, etc) as well as leading the team with 147 wRC+. Had the Rays brought him up sooner, you could argue that they’d be at least a game or two up on the rest of the division with Myers posting a 1.2 WAR thus far.
His defense might be his only weakness–if you could even call it that–however he’s been serviceable in right, playing about as good as the average outfielder.
Should the Rays end up in the playoffs either as division champs or a wild card, they could end up having the most undervalued middle of the order thanks to the effort of an unsung rookie who is destined for stardom.
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