1 Day Until Camp Opens
With less than a calendar month to go before baseball begins to smell new again we wanted to spend each day going through some of the best performances in 2016. Using game WPA for 15 starting pitcher and hitter performances we hope to be able to take you on a trip down memory lane each day.
This is it. The best, most important game for a hitter in the 2016 season, and it comes on the cusp of the biggest tease in organized sports. Tomorrow, the Rays will officially have their first practice, which will hopefully kick off a healthy Spring Training that sees guy stay healthy whether they are healthily playing in the World Baseball Classic or just being healthy and not getting hurt with the club. Enough about the bright future where all of our children are above average and every significant Rays player stays hurt, and has a great Spring, let’s turn our sights towards Steven Souza Jr.’s finest moments.
I’m not sure he could have done anything to have a better game than this. Maybe catch a baby falling from the stands onto the field or heal a junkie with merely a piercing stare. Beyond the supernatural, he did everything that you could ask for. Big Souz went 4-4 with a double and two homers. The second of which was a three-run shot in the eighth that put the team ahead for good.
Neither pitch that went for homers was all that bad. The first was down in the bottom of the zone, and the second was an outer third slider that wanted to run off the plate, but ran out of juice to settle middle and down. I’ve written many times about how Souza needs to be able to command the outer third. Swing at strikes, leave balls off the plate, don’t lose your shit if an ump calls a borderline pitch against you since you should be protecting anyway. A better slider might have made him look silly there, but when it backs up it’s a meatball that should absolutely get whacked.
Thanks for following this series over the offseason. It’s fun to go back and get reminded of the good times during a bad season, but now comes the time when a whole new script will be written. The Rays have built a team that looks solid across the board with some depth waiting in the wings. I worry about how they will hit lefties, but with a bevy of options in Danny Robertson, Casey Gillaspie and perhaps Willy Adames ready to inject some youth into the lineup the situation could be solved internally. Feel the heat. Rays.