If you read the site you know about the Matchup Tool that Ian Malinowski and I have created and refined. It’s a great way to get an idea of the outcome of any pitcher and any batter in any park. I like it. I’m proud of it. I’m going to be using it throughout this post. The idea is that we can create an idea of how a player should have batted (xwRC+) and then compare that with how the player actually did over the course of the season. Let’s go through this by plate appearance leaders:
It’s difficult for the human brain to comprehend just how devastating an effect Tropicana Field has on offensive output. Evan would be a pretty decent hitter on a neutral field as I project him to put up 107 wRC+ against righties and 116 against lefties on a neutral field, but at the Trop those expectations go to 96 and 104, respectively. This will be a common theme across all players. We see a bit of a lull on the tails and in the middle, but Longo has had sustained stretches of being a pretty good hitter this year. You can focus on the loss of power, but that will cause you to miss that he has been very good, otherwise. On to the next one:
Logan Forsythe is up next. We see how very good he was over most of the first half before going into a bit of a funk. Then, against his toughest stretch of matchups he went absolutely crazy before hitting the skids again in his most recent stretch.
Asdrubal’s first quarter of the season was just so very bad. A somewhat hot blip interrupted what was an abysmal stretch and could have possibly saved his job, but heading into the All Star Break he was having the most success of the season and was proving to be a real asset in the lineup. Then he tweaked his hammy. He doesn’t think it’s very serious, but my guess is that it will be tough for him to get back in that groove and probably won’t hit as well going forward. It’s a shame because if he had shown some more of that good he might have boosted his stock as a pretty obvious trade candidate if the Rays fall out of this thing. Seeing him grab his hamstring had the same effect as letting the air out of a balloon.
Kiermaier is here principally for his glove, but when he hits he becomes one of the best players in the game. He has had a couple of periods where he was able to provide a good amount of offense, but he also has these long stretches of malaise where he doesn’t even live up to the modest expectations. Sitting him against lefties might inflate his line, but then you lose the glove so I think we’ll continue to see him struggle at times because it’s just so hard to take him off the field.
Souza is Rob Deer/Adam Dunn incarnate. Those guys can have a ton of value if you don’t get bogged down in the strikeouts because walks are good and homers are great. While the bad stretches are really bad there he has spent most of the season hitting quite well. This most recent stretch is really tough to watch so imagine what he is going through as a guy that has already shown that he’ll wear his emotions on his sleeve. Hopefully he can figure out how to deal with the failure, because it’s a part of the game. While vision is maybe the most important thing to hitting, and I have qualms about his ability to see without his glasses, a short memory is also a very important club in your bag. This team needs good Souza as he’s capable of winning a game single-handedly.
David DeJesus was really good for a time. That time is over. He has been really bad for a while now and his start to the season was below expectations as well so you’re really just looking at that one hot stretch. Guys are allowed to get hot more than once so maybe he has another one in him, but as a guy that doesn’t bring much value anywhere other than at the dish he really needs to hit and that is something that he hasn’t done in a LOOONG time.
Joey Buts is another guy that was really very good and then he wasn’t. And isn’t. And might never be again. That’s such a dramatic downturn and he’ll probably come out of it again at some point, but I don’t think that wRC+ in the 140s is coming back. He’s another guy that can only derive value at the plate so it’s hard to see him taking at bats from more deserving players right now.
Speaking of more deserving players I have no idea how Brandon Guyer isn’t seeing more playing time. He’s a good outfielder other than that horrendous game against the Royals where he allowed Kendrys Morales to score from second on a simple line drive through the right side and then went on to have this nongem:
That game aside he has shown to be a very competent corner outfielder that can fake it in CF on occasion and the bat has been above average all year. More Guyer, please.
That’s all the hitters that had more than 200 PA. I’ll be revisiting this later in the year so stay tuned if I missed anyone that you wanted to see covered. Each batter has seen good stretches and bad stretches, but the unfortunate thing is that rarely have multiple guys been going well at the same time.
There was a stretch where the Rays were hitting well as a team earlier in the year and that stretch vaulted them to a high water mark of 10 games over .500 and an outright lead of the division. Get a few guys going well at the same time can bring that back, but it needs to happen.